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Happy birthday to the Silver State
by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist
Oct 30, 2009 | 951 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Weather should warm considerably today for the annual Nevada Day celebration in Carson City, which features the largest and most colorful parade in the entire Silver State.

The most memorable Nevada Day holidays that this writer recalls were held in the late ‘40s when almost the entire student body of the University of Nevada, Reno made its way south to the capital city. Those were days of a wide-open, citywide “beer bust” as we used to call it. The parade itself was loosely organized and the main component seemed to be scores and scores of horseback entries, split almost equally into single and group entries. Following the end of the parade, the celebration rolled well into the late hours and U.S. 395 was a string of vehicles making their way north long after midnight.

The current Adele’s restaurant, which in those days was just a colorful little bar, was one of the best Nevada Day stops. During those years, it was also a favorite watering hole for the owner of the Flying M E Dude Ranch, located midway in Washoe Valley. Her name was Emmy Woods and from time to time she would call my roommate and me to meet with her and some divorcees for an evening of dining and dancing. Not a bad assignment for a couple of struggling ex-GIs.

Currently, the big parade is a better organized event and the much larger crowds are certainly more orderly and decorous than those from the middle of the last century.

A rose by any other name

Last Sunday, the Reno Gazette-Journal got on top of a story that has been well covered in this publication for the past four weeks. Written by veteran reporter Ray Hagar, the RGJ front page article had to do with the ongoing travails of the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority as it labors mightily to come up with a slogan to promote the northern Nevada area, Reno, Sparks and Lake Tahoe. When its latest attempt, “A little west of center,” was summarily shot down by Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, the RSCVA marketing gurus were sent back to the drawing board to try and replace the long-standing “America’s Adventure Place,” which itself had only been greeted by a lukewarm reception when it was first introduced several years back.

In his article, Hagar revisited many of the comments that had been advanced in this space and on the opinion page of the Tribune by editor Nathan Orme and columnist David Farside. Hagar reiterated the many famous taglines that still resonate well for cities like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. He also took time to interview marketing experts that seemed to unanimously agree that a winning slogan is the most difficult part of a promotion to come by. While most downplayed the importance of a “moniker,” they seemed to forget that the highly successful TV ad campaign that was mounted by Las Vegas was all based on the tagline, “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” All versions of the TV ads had sublime, and sometimes not so sublime, references to the slogan. Essentially, if you are going to “theme” a tourism promotion then all subsequent copy should reflect the essence of your original catchy message, much like the title of a popular song summarizes the lyrics to come.

Reno, Sparks and Tahoe will still retain their original and well promoted taglines of “the Biggest Little City in the World,” “the Rail City” and the current “Big Blue.” Now it is incumbent upon the RSCVA to earn its marketing “chops” by coming up with a memorable phrase that sums up all the area has to offer.

Celebrity Corner

A 40-year-old flick, “The Power,” aired this week on a cable channel and it featured a couple of stars with past Reno connections. One was the heroine Suzanne Pleshette and the other was a supporting player named Earl Holliman.

Pleshette is best remembered in these parts for the role she played opposite Tony Curtis in “Forty Pounds of Trouble” that wound up location shooting at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The majority of “Trouble,” which was a remake of the Shirley Temple classic “Little Miss Marker,” was shot at Harrah’s Tahoe. Curtis, who was a regular visitor to Reno following the 1960, spent time after “Trouble” at the Mapes hotel and toured Reno for several days. One of his favorite stops was the YMCA, where he got to show off his handball skills. A good athlete by nature, he performed well on the “Y” courts.

Holliman was a solid supporting actor who we first met in the early ‘50s when he had a substantial role in the Richard Widmark film “Sixty Saddles for Gobi” that was shot on location at Pyramid Lake. The initial press conference for “Gobi” was a well-attended affair that was staged around the now gone pool at the Riverside hotel. Holliman’s top role in Hollywood occurred when he played on the TV show “Policewoman” opposite Angie Dickinson.

“The Power” was a potboiler sci-fi film that had a very young George Hamilton in the lead role and Michael Rennie, cast against type, playing the bad guy.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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Happy birthday to the Silver State by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist


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