There will be no parade in Carson City this year, thanks to COVID-19, but there are plenty of other activities scheduled during the three-day holiday weekend for masked and socially-distanced folks to celebrate the Silver State’s 156th birthday.
The festivities include watching commemorative medallions minted to order on the state’s historic coin press, railbike tours on the Comstock-era Virginia & Truckee railway, a drive-up Nevada film festival, a sky decorated with hot air balloons, a beard contest, tours of several historic sites — and a “reverse parade,” in which the crowd moves but the floats and parade vehicles remain stationary.
The theme this year is “Historic Moments in Nevada.”
“Nevada Day is the time of year for Nevadans to celebrate our state’s heritage. Although we will all miss this year’s parade, we want everyone to feel safe celebrating in smaller groups in a responsible manner that involves social distancing, mask-wearing protocols, proper cleaning measures and fun. This year has taught us that Nevadans are resilient, and we look forward to open and safe activities that will keep us engaged and Nevada proud.”— David Peterson, executive director, of Visit Carson City.
A full listing and details of Carson City’s holiday activities can be found on nevadaday.com. Here’s a summary of the highlights:
Friday, Oct. 30, official state holiday
Nevada Healthcare Heroes at the Nevada State Museum: To honor and raise funds for Nevada’s health care workers, historic Coin Press No. 1 will mint a special medallion. Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson Street, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Attendees may purchase up to two .999 fine silver planchets and watch as they are minted on the 150-year-old press. Cost for a planchet is $100; a portion of the proceeds will go to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, administered by the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. Registration is required.
Friday, Oct. 30 to Sunday, Nov. 1
V&T Carson Canyon Railbike Tours: The 2020 steam train season fell victim to the pandemic, but railbikes, motor-assisted pedal vehicles that seat four people will travel the V&T route through a landscape carved with abandoned (and a few working) silver mines and occupied by herds of wild horses. The railbikes depart from the V&T Railway, Eastgate Depot, Eastgate Siding Road in Carson City. Days and hours are: Friday – Sunday; 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, all-ages Halloween ride at 6 p.m., and 17+ Halloween ride at 8 p.m. Reservations may be made online.
Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31
Made in Nevada Film Festival: Movies set in Nevada, including two all-time classics and a kids’ favorite, are on offer at the Made in Nevada Film Festival. The films will be shown on a large outdoor screen with FM audio available on car radios. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own snacks. The lower parking lot at the Western Nevada College Campus, 2001 W. College Parkway, will serve as a temporary drive-in theater. On Friday, “The Shootist” screens at 6:15 p.m. and “The Misfits” comes on at 8 p.m. On Saturday, “The Muppets” begins at 6:15 p.m. and “Sister Act” starts at 8 p.m.
Free tickets may be picked up at Carson City Toyota, 2550 S. Carson St., where patrons also can enter a raffle for a $100 fuel gift card. For those who would rather get tickets and reserve a space for their vehicle online, the fee is $5 per car for each night of the festival.
Nevada Day (traditional), Saturday, Oct. 31
Eagle Valley Balloon Ascent: The state’s 156th birthday begins with hot air balloons filling the sky above downtown Carson City. The launch takes place between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
46th Annual World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest: You know the drill. Contestants will use 4.5 lb. hammers and ¾” steel bits to pound holes into more than two tons of granite. That’s the way they punched holes into rock in the Comstock mining days and it hasn’t gotten any easier since then. The air will ring with the sound of steel in the Carson Mall Parking Lot, (near the Carson Home Furnishings store), 1227 S. Carson Street, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Inaugural Nevada State Prison Tours: The Nevada State Prison in Carson City first opened its doors – and then locked them tight – in the midst of the Civil War, when Nevada was still a territory. The prison, which closed in 2009, has been through a lot of changes since then and is a great example of an “if these walls could talk” landmark.
The building is being preserved as a historic site. Nevada Day is the public’s first chance to tour the facility and hear the tales of the people who worked, lived, and died within the state’s real-life version of Stephen King’s fictional Shawshank. The 90-minute tours are free, but must be booked in advance. Donations are accepted. There are 12 tour times, beginning every half hour, available from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Nevada State Prison, 3301 E. 5th St.
Beard or mustache contest: Anyone with a beard or mustache can enter for free. Categories include best overall, longest, fullest, reddest, best groomed, scruffiest, most bearded community and inaugural best mustache. The contest takes place at Copper Pointe Plaza near Red’s Old 395 Grill, 1027 S. Carson Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those who want details may call Nick at (775) 515-4038 or visit Cipriani’s Downtown Barbershop, 318 N. Carson St., No. 102.
Stewart Indian School Cultural Center & Museum Tours: Northern Nevada’s off-reservation Indian boarding school operated from 1890 to 1980. The Stewart Indian School at 1 Jacobsen Way will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. A free, educational tour of the facility includes an art exhibit, beaded bag demonstration (until 1 p.m.) and basket weaving and cradle board demonstration (from 1 p.m.).
‘Reverse Parade’ Celebration: Spectators can drive past flatbed trucks, floats and vehicles that, absent the pandemic, would be cruising down Carson Street. The “reverse parade” features live entertainment. It exists from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Details and the parade route can be found on Nevada Day’s Facebook page or the Brewery Arts Center’s Facebook page.
Event and activity times are subject to change, but any updated information will be posted on each event’s website along with COVID-19 precaution instructions.