October is here, and you know what that means — the Silver State is gearing up for a long weekend of celebrating its admission to the Union. Nevada Day is Oct. 28, which means some banks, schools and government offices will be closed. The Nevada Day Parade runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 29 in Carson City.
On Oct. 31, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln made Nevada an official state of the Union, but over the years, the “Admission Day” celebration has evolved significantly.
Here’s a little trivia you might not know about Nevada Day:
- Nobody was happier than Abraham Lincoln to declare Nevada a state. Nevada had gold, yes, but as a territory, Nevada was able to help finance the Civil War for the Union before its admission to statehood. Lincoln was keen to get Nevada admitted under the wire, before the election in November, because he needed the votes to get re-elected and back his proposed amendments to the Constitution, beginning with the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery.
- Until 1933, Nevada Day wasn’t a state holiday. The first celebration of Nevada Day in the 1870s was put on by the Pacific Coast Pioneer Society, a group organized in Virginia City, 1872. The society had a major banquet whose proceedings were recorded by famed diarist Alfred Doten: “Nobody cared to lose anything by being boozy or even too hilarious, consequently the wine was very lightly hit, and hot coffee more in demand.”
- The first people to apply for Nevada Day as an official holiday? A group of women. That’s right — in 1908, the State Federation of Women’s Clubs in Reno called for a legislative bill to make “Admission Day” an official state holiday. Nothing came of it, but still — you go, ladies.
- Nevada Day was celebrated on Halloween until the year 2000. The year 2000 marked the beginning of the new tradition, observing Nevada Day officially on last Friday of October. Here’s a snapshot of Oct. 27, 2000: A Clinton was president, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was a best-seller, and we were all bobbing our heads, despite ourselves, to Christina Aguilera’s “Come on Over (All I Want is You).”
- Nevada Day’s 75th birthday was dubbed the “Diamond Jubilee.” The year was 1938, and it was the was the second consecutive year the official Nevada Day celebration was held in Carson. The celebration was, to date, the best attended yet: 42,000 people. So many cars were using the two lanes between Reno and Carson to travel to the parade that anyone traveling toward Reno was nicknamed a “Corrigan” after the airline pilot Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, who flew from Brooklyn to Ireland, though his flight plan was supposed to take him back to Long Beach. #Whoops.
- The only interruption in celebrations was a three-year stint during World War II. Since Nevada Day became an official holiday, the only non-observant years were 1942, ’43 and ’44. Just five months after the Allied Victory in 1945, Nevada Day resumed with great gusto. “The little state capitol was completely engulfed,” the Nevada Magazine reported.
- Getting young people involved was a major motivation for making Friday the “official” holiday. As time went on, the early pioneers and advocates of Nevada Day weren’t around to keep the tradition alive. Moving Nevada Day to a Friday allowed for a long weekend devoted to acknowledging the celebration — and what better way than a three-day weekend to draw the attention of teenagers?