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Constitution Day parade, activities this weekend

This weekend will mark the 38th consecutive year when Nevada City honors the U.S. Constitution with a parade and accompanying activities.

Traditional activities return, including Saturday’s 13th annual Gold Country Duck Race, which is the 49er Rotary’s largest annual fund-raiser, providing thousands of dollars for local schools and community service organizations.

With the election year theme of “Vote Duck,” the family event includes a carnival, youth games, food and drink booths and music from 11 a.m. to about 3 p.m. at the Cornerstone Realty parking lot on Broad, Boulder and Sacramento streets. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.; racing begins at 11 a.m.



About 9,000 toy ducks will race in six preliminary heats, with the 25 top ducks from each heat qualifying for the Lucky Seven final, which is at approximately 2 p.m. First prize is $5,000, second prize is $1,000 and third prize is $500, along with smaller cash prizes and merchandise prizes.

Racing ducks can be “adopted” for $5 from 49er Rotarians and from many of the community groups which benefit from the event. To adopt a racing duck or for more information, call 272-3825.




New this year will be “DucKeno” for adult players at a keno tent on the Nevada Street bridge over Deer Creek. Wine will be available and jazz music will be played by Billy Bensing as the toy ducks race down Deer Creek. Color-coded keno cards to match racing ducks will be sold for $2 each. Prizes include dinners and gift certificates.

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Pioneer Park in Nevada City will resemble the 1860s as up to 300 American Civil War Association members portray life as Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, settler re-enactors and civilians.

“We want people to remember history. It’s absolutely fun. We get to go out and play. We get to camp and dress up and talk to a lot of people and teach them history,” said Lizzie Lowrie, who portrays a civilian woman attached to the Second South Carolina unit. This is the third year in a row that American Civil War Association members from Modesto to Chico will be at Pioneer Park.

Half-hour battles will be presented at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. In addition, a one-hour fashion show at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the park’s band shell will highlight clothing pertinent to officers, soldiers and civilians, including a reporter, a woman dressed for an afternoon tea and workers.

Following each battle re-enactment, association members will answer questions and open their battlefield and camps for viewing.

The camps are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday and closed during the battles. All the re-enactors will march in Sunday’s parade.

For early-riser history fans, a first-time ceremony honoring Union soldiers buried in Nevada City’s Pine Cone Cemetery on Red Dog Road will be from 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Sunday. A church service replicating an 1860s’ service, complete with a sermon tied to the Civil War, will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Pioneer Park.

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Traditionally, spectators start staking their viewing spots on the Broad Street sidewalks a few hours before the Nevada City Constitution Day Parade entries even line up. If this year is like past years, thousands of all-age spectators will noisily await the 2 p.m. parade.

More than 100 entries, including the Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band, floats, dancers, clowns, politicians, antique autos and equestrian units will be in the parade. The Famous Marching Presidents of Nevada City (and their equally important first ladies) return for the 18th year.

Other marching bands include the Seven Hills Band, the Lyman Gilmore Band, the Nevada Union High School Band, the Sacramento Youth Band, the Gold Country Celtic Society Band and the California Consolidated Drum Band.

Pre-parade activities Sunday include a free concert by the Nevada County Concert Band at 12:30 p.m. and a re-enactment of the U.S. Constitution signing by the Nevada Lodge Number 13 Free and Accepted Masons at 1:30 p.m. on Broad Street. After the two-hour parade, the zany Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band will perform on Broad Street.

Constitution Day is sponsored by the Nevada Lodge Number 13 Free and Accepted Masons, the 49er Breakfast Rotary Club of Nevada City and the Nevada City Constitution Day Committee, which includes Nevada City Chamber of Commerce representatives, city of Nevada City staff and community members.


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