Dennis Cassinelli: Carson City’s Nevada Day celebration
Nevada Day is a legal holiday in the state of Nevada. It commemorates the state’s Oct. 31, 1864, admission to the Union. The first known observance of Nevada Day, originally known as Admission Day, was by the Pacific Coast Pioneer society during the 1870s. The Nevada Legislature established it as a state holiday in 1933. Nevada Day originally was observed on Oct. 31 each year. Since 2000, it is observed on the last Friday in October. On this holiday, all state, county and city government offices are closed, along with most schools and libraries. Some private businesses, like banks, are also closed at their discretion. In Nevada’s capital, Carson City, a parade is held through the heart of downtown, as well as a carnival and several other events.
Nevadans love a parade, but Nevada Day is more than just a parade; it is a grand celebration commemorating Nevada’s entry into the Union on Oct. 31, 1864. Nevadans have the distinction of holding the largest statehood celebration in the nation. The celebration in the state’s capital, Carson City, features a large assortment of activities including the Nevada Day Parade, music and arts shows, a carnival, pancake breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion, Nevada Day Classic Run/Walk, World Championship Rock Drilling Contest, Beard Contest, Annual Chili Feed, free local concerts and more. More than 200 entries (led by law enforcement and public officials) include floats, marching bands, horses, entertainers, youth groups, celebrity guests and even Burning Man creations. Food, drink and souvenir vendors line the streets, as well as local businesses featuring food and beverage specials.
This year, the theme of the Nevada Day celebration is Nevada’s counties. We now have 17 counties but the County of Bullfrog was created by the State Legislature in 1987, consisting of 144 square miles with no people and no buildings. It had to do with a proposed nuclear dump and was deemed unconstitutional by a district judge. Ormsby County in western Nevada was the state capital and was named for William Ormsby, who was killed in the Pyramid Lake Indian War. The name was later changed to Carson City after John C. Fremont’s guide, Kit Carson.
Pershing County was named after Army General John J. Pershing. This county was the last county created in Nevada in 1919 by separating it from Humboldt County, so this is the Centennial Year for Pershing County. It has the only round courthouse in the United States. The Black Rock Desert and the archaeological site, Lovelock Cave are both in Pershing County.
Other Nevada counties include Humboldt, Elko, Washoe, Lincoln, Clark, Lander, White Pine, Churchill, Eureka, Douglas, Storey, Esmeralda, Lyon, Nye and Mineral. I have visited every one of Nevada’s 17 counties and have worked in many of them.
President Abraham Lincoln wanted the Nevada Territory to become a state to assure the wealth from the Nevada Comstock mines would remain in the hands of the Union, and not in the hands of the Confederacy.
Therefore, Nevada was admitted to the Union on Oct. 31, 1864 during the Civil War. This is why Nevada is known as the Battle Born State. Every year, people from many Nevada counties attend the celebration.
This article is by Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli, who can be contacted on his blog at denniscassinelli.com. All Cassinelli’s books sold through this publication will be at a discount plus $3 for each shipment for postage and packaging.