Nevada Day is the forgotten holiday. Like Arbor Day or Tax Day, it never feels any different while it’s happening. It comes and goes with nary as much as a whisper. Unless you live in Carson City, Nev., where I assume the parade either provides mild fun or inconvenience. It’s a shame because Nevada Day provides a great opportunity to celebrate the unique history of our state and also reflect on what it means to live in Nevada.
Nevada was admitted into the Union on October 31,1864. Meaning Nevada became a state on Halloween, which is pretty metal. Nevada also became a state during the Civil War, immediately joining the side of the Union in the fight against slavery and secession, which is also super metal. If you’ve ever heard the cool as heck phrase “Battle Born” in reference to Nevada, it’s because the state hopped straight out of the proverbial womb to fight against the Confederates. Basically, the state was founded in the coolest way possible—let’s at least celebrate that.
Nevada’s storied history is full of interesting little moments worthy of celebration. For example, Nevada was only admitted into the Union to help gather votes for the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, meaning Nevada played a key role in the fight for emancipation.
Sadly, Nevada Day gets overlooked because it falls on Halloween. Admittedly, Halloween parties are awesome, so I get why people would rather celebrate it instead. Nevada actually moves Nevada Day celebrations off of the 31st of the month to the last Friday of October just to try and give it a little attention. I’m not saying anyone should throw a Nevada Day party instead of a Halloween party, but there is enough cool stuff about Nevada to do something fun to celebrate.
This years’ Nevada Day theme is “Nevada counties—100 years,” a celebration of when Pershing county was established in 1919, becoming the 17th county in the state. So, uh, that’s not very exciting. Do not fret, though. It’s enough to work with for what I am going to propose: pregame Friday night Halloween parties with a Nevada Day shindig. Get all your friends together, say a quick word about how you love the silver state, and then chug for 17 seconds or something. Be creative, Nevada’s worth it.
Nevada gets little to no respect—barely more recognition than the Wyomings and Montanas of the country. It’s unfair, there’s so much cool stuff here worthy of recognition. The beautiful Mojave desert in the south and the snowy Sierra Nevadas in the north. Lake Tahoe and Lake Mead. Silver and gold just flows out of the mines like water. The Hoover dam is awesome. Area 51, even if no one can go there, is just a cool thing to have in the state on principle. Plus the casino culture, with mob bosses and martinis and Elvis: also a great aesthetic. By taking even a second out of your Friday to remember Nevada Day and acknowledge cool things about the state, the perception that it’s all empty space besides the Strip can start to fade.
Nevada Day also provides a moment to reflect on Nevada’s legacy. Part of this is Nevada’s history dealing with the indigenous peoples in the state. Sure, cool stuff has happened in Nevada, but most of it happened on land taken from different indigenous groups either through coercion or unfair agreements. Nuclear bombs were tested on Shoshone land which the Shoshone contest they never gave up ownership of. The rich agricultural history of parts of Northern Nevada was built on water diverted from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
Nevada’s history, despite all of the fun and inspiring things, is also marred with tragedy. As Nevadans, this dichotomy should be explored and thought about, which is what I think Nevada Day should be about. None of that can happen if the holiday is ignored and forgotten.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Vince Sagebrush.