Steve Potter, portraying John Dickinson of Delaware, signs the U.S. Constitution during a reenactment ceremony before the 2010 Constitution Day parade on Broad Street

Constitution Day Parade

(Sunday September 11, 2011)


he 45th Annual Constitution Day Parade in Nevada City tops a weekend of festivities Sept.10-11.
It's been a local tradition since 1967 and is considered to be the oldest and largest Constitution observance in western America. The parade through the downtown Nevada City includes marching bands, floats, antique autos, equestrians, politicians, the Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band and Famous Marching Presidents of Nevada City (a respectfully humorous  group that portrays each U.S. president). The 2:pm Sunday parade featured more than 100 entries as the grand finale of other activities that included the Civil War battle reenactments in Pioneer Park, the Gold Country Duck Race on Deer Creek, and a free outdoor big band concert. It brings back memories of  Cheryl sewing authentic costumes for her family's participation in the Civil War reenactments. Members of the American Civil War Association offer living history and battle reenactments Saturday and Sunday in Pioneer Park. Now former Marine Cheryl and her sister Sue ride their motorcycles with the Tea Party Patriot Freedom Riders in parades. Because this year's parade took place on 9/11 the TPP placed special emphasis on remembering those 343 early response fire fighters and paramedics who died following the attack on the World Trade Center September 11, 2001.

Eddie Garcia's wife Nancy did a beautiful job on the Never Forget posters.

All past and present U.S. Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, were on hand for the 24th year in a row. The Marching Presidents are a  group, made up of citizens from all walks of life, who portray all 44 U.S. Presidents with respect, humor and degrees of historical accuracy. The Presidents are accompanied by their First Ladies and trench-coated Secret Service agents. It's all about educating people about history and the Constitution, to remind everyone of our freedoms.             

The day was declared by California Gov. Jerry Brown as Patriot Day in memory of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, though the motive of the Nevada City festivities was to celebrate the delivery of the final draft of the U.S. Constitution to Congress on Sept. 18, 1787.

Best in parade: 1st place, Nevada County Tea Party Patriots; 2nd, Caledonian Scottish Club of Sacramento; 3rd, Maine Color Guard; honorable mention, Blue Star Mothers of America. -  Best historical unit: 1st place, Daughters of the American Revolution; 2nd, California Consolidated Drum Band; 3rd, Vietnam Veterans of America; honorable mention, U.S. Submarine Veterans. - Best float: 1st place, Nevada Lodge No. 13 of the Free and Accepted Masons and Rainbow Girls; 2nd, Sons of Norway; 3rd, MOPS of Grass Valley; honorable mention, Grand Marshals Nick and Cathy Whittlesey. - Best marching unit: 1st place, American Civil War Association; 2nd, Seven Hills Middle School marching band; 3rd, Lyman Gilmore Middle School marching band; honorable mention, Nevada City School District. - Best musical group: 1st place, First Baptist Church of Grass Valley student choir; 2nd, Nevada Union High School marching band; 3rd, Bear River High School marching band; honorable mention, Union Hill School band. -  Mayor's choice: 1st place, Famous Marching Presidents; 2nd, Merry Widows Society; 3rd, North San Juan Volunteer Fire Department; honorable mention, Ophir Prison Band.

Mayor David McKay estimated about 3,000 people lined Broad Street in downtown Nevada City to watch the parade. There were many participants in the parade but I only included a few. It's nice that so many people make it interesting and fun for everyone. As Grass Valley's Emily Boling, who marched with the Daughters of the American Revolution, put it...“If we don't actively acknowledge (the Constitution) in our daily lives, we risk letting people take those freedoms away.”