Nevada Day—or Admission Day, as it was first known—was only periodically recognized for the first seventy-five years of the state's history. Parades in larger cities, such as Reno and Virginia City, were often held on important anniversary years. Other than that, little was done to mark the occasion. Admission Day was finally declared a judicial holiday in 1891, and a one-time public holiday in 1914 in observance of the 50th anniversary of statehood. The holiday was rechristened "Nevada Day" in 1933 and became a permanent official state holiday in 1939.
The beginning of Carson City's annual Nevada Day parade is due, in large part, to the leadership of District Judge Clark J. Guild. As president of the Carson City Lions Club, Guild successfully mobilized businesses and average citizens in support of an annual statehood celebration. The first Nevada Day celebration was held in Carson City on October 31, 1938. The initial celebration included a historical pageant, a parade, a Civil War-era costume ball, and a "pony express" race from Virginia City to Carson City. Almost 19,000 were in attendance. By the following year, the event had expanded to three days, and attendance had increased to 45,000. In subsequent years, the size of the celebration has ebbed and flowed due to various political, social, and economic factors. Nevada Day has remained an important tradition, not only among the state's politicians and other leaders, but among its citizens as well.
All photographs courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada-Reno Library.