Committee wants greater participation in Nevada Day |

Committee wants greater participation in Nevada Day

Sally RobertsFor the Nevada Appeal

In the 74 years since the Nevada Day Parade moved to Carson City, the number of Nevada Day events has multiplied to include contests, parties, carnivals, exhibits and food events. At the same time, the region from which participants come to celebrate in the capital city has diminished.“It used to be a statewide event,” said Guy Rocha, retired state archivist who continues to stay involved with Nevada history and events. “Now, Nevada Day in Nevada is celebrated principally in Western Nevada.”Parade entries overwhelmingly come from Carson City and a 60- to 65-mile radius, he said. It has become too expensive for schools to send bands and floats from out of the area, like they did 30 to 40 years ago.“The farther you get away, the less participation you see. Get to (Southern Nevada and Eastern Nevada) and there’s almost no participation,” he said. “So, on one hand, no state in the union celebrates in the sense we hold an annual event. On the other hand, it’s not celebrated by everyone in Nevada.”Sue Ballew, a historian and life-long Carson resident whose father was on the Nevada Day Parade board of directors, has observed the changes from a unique vantage point. Besides watching the parade from childhood, she and her brother, Trent Dolan, write the Nevada Appeal feature Past Pages, which their father, Bill Dolan, began in 1947.“When we do (Past Pages), we see trends, how the parade has changed over the years. Instead of becoming a statewide event, it’s become more local,” she said, noting the in-town involvement has also decreased.“In the old days, merchants participated by putting historic displays in the windows. There was more participation by clubs and merchants,” she said.When the Legislature, in 1999, moved the Nevada Day holiday to the last Friday of October, it was hoped that a three-day weekend would make it easier for people from distant places like Elko and Clark counties to travel to Carson City to participate. “If it hadn’t been moved, arguably, it would have died,” Rocha said. “I’m happy to say that this move has helped it to survive, but it certainly hasn’t got greater participation. It hasn’t changed the pattern.”Funding is an issue that a three-day weekend doesn’t solve. Increasingly, budget-crunched schools and public institutions have little to spend on such excursions.Ken Hamilton, president of the Nevada Day Committee, noted that even Reno bands were missing from this year’s parade because the small funding pot was needed for other commitments. “If they can’t make it from Reno, how are schools from Clark County going to (come)?” he asked.Nevertheless, some do make the long journey. White Pine High School is a regular parade entry and Pahrump was represented this year by Miss Pahrump 2012.Currently, the only Nevada Day funding provided by the state is some grant money for the parade, Hamilton said. The Nevada Day committee and workers are staffed by volunteers. One-third of the cost is paid for by sponsorships. Parade entry fees help, but have not been raised for years, Hamilton said.The organizers of each special event, such as the RSVP Carnival, the Governor’s Ball in Virginia City, and the new Battle Born Days expo, arrange their own funding.“We’re always working on trying to get more funding,” Hamilton said.“It’s important to point out that (Nevada Day is) primarily privately paid for,” Rocha added. “To pay for it, it needs to have a good turnout.”Members of the Nevada Day committee are actively looking for ways to bring more participation from throughout Nevada. That’s especially true for the 75th anniversary of the parade in Carson City next year and the 2014 sesquicentennial celebration of Nevada statehood.The Sesquicentennial Committee, created by Gov. Brian Sandoval, is already at work, Hamilton said. The official logo for the Nevada Sesquicentennial was unveiled at the Nevada Day Governor’s Banquet on Thursday. The committee plans to create 150 events to take place throughout the year.Another reason for the two-year head start on the sesquicentennial is to have detailed plans to present to the 2013 Legislature for funding.As the Sesquicentennial Committee works on the big picture, the Nevada Day Committee is working on increased involvement in the parade and other Nevada Day activities.“We have a couple ideas to get all the counties involved in both years,” Hamilton said.The committee hopes to bring back popular features such as the Clydesdale horses and, if possible, a successor to Buddy the Driving Dog. “Buddy” was a succession of golden retrievers trained to drive a car by owner Bill Williamson. Williamson died in 2009, bringing to an end a beloved Carson City tradition.The committee is also making connections with representatives from various Nevada counties, “rekindling that interest” in the parade and events, Hamilton said. “Right now, we’re making some strides to do that. …“It would be nice to have a band, something, from each county.”