Fallon goes all out with millennium celebration
FALLON – Millennium fever has caught on in Fallon, so much so that the Oasis of Nevada has a formal Mayor’s Millennium Commission outlining 15 months of events to celebrate the Year 2000.
Mayor Ken Tedford’s millennial clan includes a former mayor, the admiral at the Naval Air Station, county and school officials, contractors at the Navy base, ranchers, farmers, miners and people from business and industry.
“I tried to get as broad a cross-section as I could,” Tedford said. “From the very first meeting, these people were ready to go. I’m amazed where we’ve gone.”
No other city in Nevada is known to have a group charged with keeping the millennium theme alive from Nevada Day 1999 until New Year’s 2001.
So far, it’s a work in progress. No specific events are planned yet beyond Jan. 1. Fallon’s annual events in 2000 will become part of “Millennium Moments” and the commission will likely dream up other events.
If Tedford has his way, the millennium will last long beyond the year itself.
Tedford and his commission are negotiating for property in downtown Fallon to build a Millennium Park, complete with time capsule and an ornamental clock with an historic design.
“The idea of the clock and the park is to leave something here for people in the future,” Tedford said.
Initially, hopes were to have the park ready for New Year’s Eve but property negotiations still haven’t been wrapped up so the park won’t be built until next year.
“I’m not terribly disappointed by that,” Tedford said.
Fallon will celebrate the millennium itself (that is for those who subscribe to the idea of 2000 launching the new millennium) with a three-day extravaganza highlighted by a 30-foot-high bonfire and a New Year’s Eve Ball in a huge Navy hangar.
“I’m going to take tickets myself so I can greet everybody who comes,” the mayor said. “It’s not a black-tie event so everyone will feel welcome to come.”
This will be a New Year’s Eve Ball for the people. Tickets are only $5. That’s not a misprint.
Tedford’s vision for millennial celebrations is to make all events affordable. He doesn’t want money to stand in the way of community celebration.
That was a vision he shared with Anne Pershing, editor of the Lahontan Valley News. Both independently thought up the idea for extended millennium celebrations early this year and then banded together to form a commission.
“My daughter called me one day and said hotels in Las Vegas were charging $4,000 a night,” said Pershing, chairman of the mayor’s commission. “People in Fallon deserve better than this. They deserve something affordable, something for the family. I’d like to think we have a vision and genuine concern for the people who live here. It’s about them.”
Even commission members were stunned by the turnout for Fallon’s Nevada Day events. This included a school children’s parade from Churchill County Junior High School to the Fallon Community Center, where festivities attracted some 3,000 people.
“Everybody seems to be really thrilled about (Fallon’s millennium celebration),” Pershing said.
New Year’s weekend events start Thursday at the Churchill County Fairgrounds with the bonfire extravaganza that will also include hay rides, sage spirit dancers, a snake dance and the singing of “Home Means Nevada” and “America the Beautiful.”
New Year’s Eve opens with old westerns featuring Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry plus 17 cartoons at the Fallon Theatre. Movies will run from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission will be 15 cents for children 10 and under and $1 for everybody else.
Fallon will have two fireworks shows Friday: one at 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds for children and one at midnight at the Naval Air Station. Sirens, church bells and whistles throughout Fallon will also blare away at midnight.
New Years’s Day will offer the “first-fun-run-of-the-new-millennium” run at 10 a.m. The run starts at the Veterans Memorial behind City Hall and goes down the Old Lincoln Highway, today’s Center Street.
Out-of-town visitors are welcome to experience Fallon’s way of celebrating, said Rick Gray, executive director of the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority.
“This gives people in Reno and Carson City an alternative to more crowded events,” Gray said.
Tedford wants Fallon’s millennium celebration to take a look at the community history as well as future. The town’s Nevada Day parade honored 243 pioneers of Fallon – defined as at least 75 years old and a Fallon resident for more than 50 years.
The mayor wants these festivities to bridge old and new.
“I think it’s rekindled the old town closeness of a small town,” Tedford said. “There are a lot of new people here who are getting to see how the old things were like. It shows new people where the community was and old people where we’re going. The pioneers have to understand this town is going in a different direction than 20 years ago.”
What: New Year’s Weekend in Fallon
Theme: Millennium Moments
Thursday: Bonfire at the Churchill County Fairgrounds, 8 p.m.
New Year’s Eve: Old westerns and cartoons at the Fallon Theatre, 71 S. Maine St., 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
– Kids fireworks at the fairgrounds, 6 p.m.
– New Years Eve Party at Naval Air Station, 9 p.m.
– Fireworks at Naval Air Station, midnight
New Year’s Day: Fun run, 10 a.m., starts behind Fallon City Hall.
Phone: Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority, (800) 874-0903.
Souvenirs: Caps, t-shirts, calendars and the prized item: a blanket featuring historic details in Fallon. Blanket available for $48.50 by calling Anne Pershing at (775) 423-6041.