Brian Sandford: Nevada Day exceeded already-high expectations
I came. I saw. I had a blast.
For eight months, readers and friends told me frequently that I had no idea what I was in for when Nevada Day rolled around. As I maneuvered along the narrow sidewalk space between downtown businesses and thousands of lined-up parade spectators, teetering on sensory overload, I finally understood what they’d meant.
I’d never witnessed a spectacle like that. The closest experience I can compare it to is the Gasparilla Pirate Fest in Tampa, Fla., which draws many thousands to beautiful Bayshore Boulevard southwest of downtown. That festival has the distinction of featuring the largest assembly of tipsy-before-noon people I’ve ever seen.
Morning libations were flowing at Nevada Day, of course, but the event has a distinctly different vibe from the pirate festival. Florida’s event is a party; ours is a full-blown celebration. I gradually realized ours is the only state that celebrates its history and culture with a parade and a designated day of merrymaking — which in itself is something to be proud of.
As I’ve written before, one of my favorite things about Carson City is that when I’m out and about, there’s a good chance I’ll run into someone I know and like. That happened repeatedly on Nevada Day. Even better, I made a number of new friends. While I was standing in line at the Carson Nugget for Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki’s chili feed, a woman approached and said, “Say, you’re the editor, aren’t you?” Turns out she recognized me from the picture that accompanies this column, and the same happened several times at the Nevada Day Beard Contest.
I sat at a table with her husband and her as we chatted about Nevada and Carson City. I marveled at the number of people streaming into the upstairs banquet room at the Nugget, promptly at noon. I spotted another familiar face — that of columnist Guy W. Farmer, who’s a good friend, and his girlfriend.
Afterward, education reporter Teri Vance showed me around, explaining the rules for the rock-drilling contest she was covering and giving me background on the participants. Teri, a native of Wells, has lived in the area for many years and knows a lot about this town and its people.
My assignment was to cover the beard contest, and I quickly realized I’d underestimated the beard-growing rivalry between Carson and Virginia cities. Virginia City won the Most Bearded Community title last year, with 57 bearded residents present to Carson’s 46, although that result is in some dispute. The two towns initially tied, and a recount gave the title to Virginia City.
Not so this year, as Carson cruised to an 89-54 victory. The home crowd erupted into a roar when the tally was announced, although bearded faces from both towns were smiling at the end. In fact, Nevada Day featured the largest number of smiling faces in one place that I’ve seen in a long time, and that’s what I’ll remember mostly fondly about it.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s sesquicentennial Nevada Day, when Carson will have been my home for an additional year. I’m very proud to call this place my home, and Home Means Nevada.
Editor Brian Sandford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.