Sesquicentennial is a big, seldom used word that means a 150th year celebration. The word has become more common here in Nevada during this past year as the state prepared to mark the 150th anniversary of statehood.
As the Civil War raged on, the Union needed the silver produced by the mines around Virginia City. Nevada’s admission as a no-slavery Union state was rushed through Congress and approved on October 31, 1864. (Hence the state motto: “Battle Born”.)
I’ve heard that Nevada has the largest statehood celebration in the nation. In most years there is a parade, chili feed, beard contest, concerts and the World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest (in which contestants mimic the method used by early miners to make holes for dynamite). For the 150th anniversary additional events were added, creating a 4-day celebration.
I’ve lived in Nevada more than 30 years and had never went to the parade. With this year’s special celebration, I figured it was the right time.
The parade ran a whopping four hours! That’s longer than Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. There were politicians, bands, businesses, school groups, scouts and entries from counties and cities across northern Nevada. (There was little participation from the southern part of the state – no Las Vegas area politicians or school groups, which is a shame since this was a celebration for the entire state.)
When my spouse and I arrived, we happened to find a small empty patch of sidewalk near the announcer’s booth. The most interesting thing happened at the start of the parade. A woman with a beautiful voice began to sing the national anthem over the audio system. Within a few bars, people for at least two blocks in each direction fell silent. I’ve been through the ritual at sporting, school and civic events, but it’s never been as quiet as it was on Carson Street today. Very impressive.