Thousands Celebrate Nevada's Birthday

Nevada State Flag
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About 20,000 people lined Carson City's main drag in mostly sunny, cool weather to watch the 65th annual Nevada Day Parade.

Gov. Kenny Guinn and other top Nevada elected officials took part in the state's largest parade Saturday down Carson Street.

About 200 floats, marching bands and other entries joined the parade celebrating Nevada's 139th birthday. Nevada became a state in 1864 when Abraham Lincoln was president.

Sheriff's deputies reported no major problems.

The parade, themed "A Salute to Our Veterans," also featured many veterans' groups. Its grand marshal was Richard Sorenson of the Reno area, a 1944 Medal of Honor recipient.

The parade was the highlight of Nevada Day festivities that included the World Beard and Moustache Championships, a mining jack-drilling contest and a grand ball at Piper's Opera House in nearby Virginia City.

Guinn also played host to a traditional chili feed at the Carson Nugget casino and opened the governor's mansion to tours.

The beard contest was a biennial event held by beard and moustache clubs from around the world.

Competitors from such clubs in Austria, Switzerland, England, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine, Canada and Mexico took part.

The Nevada Day observation dates back to 1938 and makes Nevada only one of three states that celebrates its statehood.

Organizers say Nevada has the nation's largest formal celebration marking its statehood.

The state's birthday actually is Oct. 31, but the parade is held on Saturday. The 1997 Legislature moved the holiday to the last Friday in October to avoid ill-attended midweek celebrations.

An estimated 25,000 people turned out for last year's parade.