CARSON CITY — The sights and sounds of hot-air balloons floating over the capital, men in faux Arabian outfits driving tiny cars and the clip clop of horses’ feet on asphalt meant only one thing Saturday: It was the Nevada Day Parade.
There was plenty of facial hair ready for judging in the beard contest, rock drillers competing for cash prizes, mounted horse units decked out in their finest and, of course, politicians, out to participate in the various activities in the capital in honor of Nevada’s 149th birthday as a member of the union.
Public schools from the northern part of the state had their best musicians on display in their marching bands, from the White Pine County school bands to the Silverland Middle School Marching Band from Fernley. There were beauty queens, rodeo queens and Native American princesses.
Carson City residents, Nevadans from around the state and visitors from California and other areas converged on the sidewalks along Carson Street to enjoy the spectacle on a sunny Autumn day.
Maria and her 11-year old daughter Mireya from Carson City were enjoying the parade from a vantage point in front of the historic old federal building.
Mireya said she enjoyed watching the many different law enforcement vehicles drive by with their blaring sirens, and of course, the clowns.
Austin Williamson, 9, of Carson City, said he could not pinpoint a favorite in the parade, although the fist-full of candy he held that was being handed out by parade participants was certainly at the top of his list.
“I like the whole parade,” he said.
Thousands lined the parade route, which extended through the center of the downtown area.
Gov. Brian Sandoval was near the front of the parade entries, waving to the crowd from on top of an Army half-track. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller went with a different approach, appearing on horseback.
Grand Marshal Mike Shaughnessy of Carson City rode in style in a 1941 Chrysler Phaeton on loan from the National Auto Museum. Shaughnessy was only 3 years old when he appeared as little Daniel Boone in the very first Nevada Day Parade in 1938. This year was the 75th anniversary of the popular event.
Other events that were part of the celebration included a free chili feed hosted by Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, the 30th annual Nevada Day Pow Wow, a fair and the annual Pinewood Derby for children.
Tours of the Governor’s Mansion were also offered. The mansion, which is thoroughly decorated for Halloween, will be the first residence visited by many trick-or-treaters on Thursday when the governor and first lady Kathleen Sandoval hand out goodies to the costumed children.
Nevada’s actual birthday is on Halloween on Oct. 31, but the day is commemorated over the weekend preceding the official day.
The parade was a kickoff for the 150th sesquicentennial celebration that will run through Nevada Day 2014. The next 12 months will see a variety of special events leading up to the state’s 150th birthday.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.