CARSON CITY — The question of when Nevada entered the Union isn’t up for debate: Oct. 31, 1864. The question of when to celebrate the entrance isn’t so simple.
Nevada Day was observed on Oct. 31 until 1999 when the Nevada Legislature changed the holiday to the last Friday of the month in fulfilling the wishes of residents, who voted in favor of moving the state observance day in a nonbinding advisory ballot question.
But a bill introduced at the ongoing legislative session by Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, would undo that action, setting Nevada Day’s official observance on Oct. 31 — no ifs, ands or buts about it.
“A lot of my constituents came forward, particularly people who were native Nevadans, and it’s a constant thing when Nevada Day is celebrated where they say ‘why isn’t Nevada Day on Oct. 31?,” Yeager said. “A lot of people remember having Halloween off when they were a kid … so there was kind of this constant frustration of why was it ever changed in the first place.”
Yeager said the core of the bill came through conversations with his Southern Nevada constituents, such as working parents who would like Halloween off and expressed confusion over why the split happened in the first place.
But after announcing the bill Yeager quickly received feedback from others saying they enjoy the celebration being on the last Friday on the month.
Many residents use the three-day weekend, when children aren’t in school, to take small trips to Disneyland or into Southern Utah. They also travel to Carson City from all corners of the state for a parade and observance festivities. Having a midweek celebration would certainly cut into the participation — and revenue for the city.
“I thought it was a worthy discussion to have. I have heard some information that I hadn’t thought about previously. This is what the legislative process is for, right?,” Yeager said.
Aside from the bill, Yeager is urging residents from Southern Nevada to become more active in the celebration. That could be in the form of traveling to Carson City for the events, fundraising to send school bands up north for the parade, or holding community service events in Las Vegas.
Ronni Hannaman, the executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, said that the Nevada Day festivities matter for the city’s businesses. The parade draws crowds from as far away as Sacramento, Calif., she said.
“On that Friday and Saturday, Carson City is packed with people from all over the area,” she said. “They come down from Tahoe and Reno in droves. From Douglas County, Lyon County. It’s a huge event for us.”
Hannaman said the parade is an economic boon for downtown Carson City, and visitors and locals alike stay in the downtown area until the evening, frequenting the restaurants and bars that surround the Capitol complex.
“People line up on the streets in downtown Carson from 7 o’clock in the morning till the parade ends, and then they go to all their little haunts,” she said.
Unlike Southern Nevada, which Hannaman said had events happening around the clock, smaller Northern Nevada cities like Carson City look forward to the less-common events like the Nevada Day parade.
Yeager has asked for data from Carson City stakeholders, seeking to quantify the economic impact of the holiday on the region. He stresses he doesn’t want to discount Northern Nevada arguments.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love my three-day weekends, I get it. I think those are just kind of the things I’m trying to work through my mind, whether this is the right thing to do and whether it’s the right time to do it,” he said.