‘It’s like a kickoff to summer’ | NevadaAppeal.com

‘It’s like a kickoff to summer’

by Caryn Haller

Thousands of paradegoers arrived early Saturday to claim their spots along Highway 395 in Gardnerville.

For many families their spot on the parade route is as much a tradition as Carson Valley Days itself.

Doug McConnell and his group of 16 have watched the parade from the Sweetwater Car Wash parking lot for 13 years.

“It’s like the kickoff to summer. I really enjoy the whole thing in general,” he said. “My wife started bringing me here 13 years ago. She’s been coming since she was a little girl.”

His wife, Jenn, has many fond memories of her 34 Carson Valley Days celebrations.

“When I was a teenager shaving cream used to be illegal,” she said. “Whenever we saw a cop coming we would throw the cans in the bushes and go back and get them later.”

Jenn, 36, has passed on her love of Carson Valley Days to her 11-year-old daughter Rayann.

“It’s definitely a tradition. My daughter counts down the days to Carson Valley Days starting at Christmas,” she said. “It’s got a lot of meaning to me. It’s the community coming together and celebrating us as a town.”Dominick Gruneich, 9, was in the spirit of this year’s “Irish Celebration” theme with his green T-shirt with the saying, “Irish Girls Love Me.”

“I enjoy just about everything in Carson Valley Days,” he said. “This year’s theme is the best. My mom’s Irish.”

He added that the key to a good Irish float would be children dressed as leprechauns with rainbowsand pots of gold.

Matt Anderson of Gardnerville watched the parade from in front of Napa with his wife, children and friends. This is his 12th parade.

“This is family fun, and the epitome of Carson Valleyness,” he said. “Carson Valley Days means kids and community. This is when we all get together and celebrate who we are.”

Bob Marsh and his family have watched the festivities from their spot in front of Carson Valley Middle School since 1987. He also hasbeen collecting Carson Valley Days buttons for 21 years.

“I have just about every year. I think I missed one year,” the Gardnerville resident said. “I enjoy the parade. It’s very enjoyable, and there’s a lot of history to it.”

Damon Eaton, 36, has been coming to the parade since 1988 with his parents. Now, he brings his family, and they always set up by Derrick Lopez’s law office.

“I enjoy the family gathering,” he said. “It’s a competition to see who can get here first.”

His 11-year-old son, also named Damon, normally rides on one of the fire engines, but this year he was content to watch it.

“I like the parade because I get candy,” he said. “All the floats are pretty good.”

Dutch Flats, Calif., resident Rick Sims drives 130 miles to participate in Carson Valley Days. It has been a tradition of his for 10 years.

“It’s the most cheap fun you can have anywhere,” he said. “I love the parade. They need a band, otherwise it’s a great parade. Definitely worth the drive.”