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Why don’t we observe Nevada Day on its actual day?

Spooky but true: Nevada became a state on Halloween in 1864, but Nevada doesn’t celebrate its birthday on its actual date.

Every year, schools and several other state and county entities close to observe Nevada’s birthday, Nevada Day, on the last Friday in October. But why do we celebrate the day on a different date than Oct. 31?

Here’s how Nevada Day came to be, and why it isn’t always observed on Halloween anymore:

The creation of Nevada Day

Nevada became the 36th state on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1864, after telegraphing its entire state constitution to the U.S. Capitol just days before the general election to help contribute electoral votes toward President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection.

The Silver State’s anniversary of statehood was originally called Admission Day for its admission into the Union, according to Review-Journal archives, but was renamed to Nevada Day in 1933.

The Nevada Legislature passed a bill to make Nevada Day a state holiday, observed each year on Oct. 31, in 1939, which gave Nevada students that day off from school. But, 70 years later, the Legislature decided to consider what some argued was a more convenient date for the celebration.

How Nevada Day’s observation date changed

In 1997, the Nevada Legislature made an advisory ballot question for the 1998 general election to gauge public interest on whether Nevada Day should be observed on Oct. 31 or the last Friday of the month.

Those in favor of the bill argued that a date change would create a three-day weekend and make traveling to Carson City’s Nevada Day celebration easier for Nevada students, marching bands and other organizations, instead of having the day fall on whatever random day of the week Oct. 31 would be each year.

Critics argued that the date change would break historical accuracy and Nevada tradition. Even the Review-Journal recommended Nevadans vote no on the ballot question on its list of endorsements for the 1998 general election.

Despite the dissent, voters decided in favor of the date change by a six-point margin on the ballot question, according to Review-Journal reports following the election.

Related: What does Bugsy Siegel’s toilet have to do with Nevada Day?

After the general election, the Legislature voted in May 1999 to officially turn Nevada Day into a three-day weekend. However, the language of the bill from 1998 was altered to state that Oct. 31 would remain Nevada Day, but be observed (with schools and other state entities closed) on the last Friday in October, according to an Associated Press report.

The date change was put into effect in 2000, and has been the tradition ever since.

Carson City has celebrated Nevada Day every year with the Nevada Day Parade since 1938. Since the observation date was changed, the parade is held on the Saturday following the Friday Nevada Day is observed.

This year, Halloween falls on Tuesday; Nevada Day is Oct. 27.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com

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