Touted as the most successful celebration in Hawthorne’s history, the 1947 Navy Day participants and organizers were determined to put on a good show and they certainly did that. There were over 1,000 visitors during a time when automobiles were not so plentiful and before high school reunions were so prevalent. This Navy day function on Oct. 25 and 26, 1947 set the tone for future Navy and Armed Forces Day celebrations.
Governor Vail Pittman and his wife were special guests and immediately upon departing his plane at the airport he was placed in a kangaroo court “paddy wagon” for failure to wear western gear. Caught short of cash the governor attempted to write for the $1.50 fine but the court would not honor the governor’s check and so he had to call upon our local base commander, Captain Norman C. Gillette to bail him out. That incident gave impetus to the holiday spirit of the occasion. Open house at the base provided a look at operations which our visitors found interesting and rewarding. After just recently winning the war they were very interested in seeing and learning more about the base’s contribution toward that effort.
A competitive trap shoot at the range north of the depot was held with five teams of five men competing. The Nevada Fish and Game commission won the top honors with a score of 219 out of a possible 250. Placing second was the Fallon Sportsmen’s Club, 210; third was the Mineral County’s Sportsmen’s Club 180; forth was U.S. Marines, 177 and fifth was #389, National Federation of Federal Employees, 161.
Individual shooting honors were taken by Sheriff Ralph Vannoy of Churchill County who made a perfect score of 100 clay pigeons out of a possible 100. In the class division Allen Connelly and Lloyd Boone tied for gun money. Class 3 honors were taken by Nelson Mills of the Marine Corps and Jay Pearce was high in class 4.
In conjunction with the trap shoot there was a turkey shoot conducted by the Mineral County Sportsmen’s Club, with the following ten individuals winning the birds. Lt. Otto, Sgt. Acord, Thomas Williams, J.E. Davis, Al Conelly, Clarence Williams, Earl Boardman, B. Collins, Barney O’Malia, Joe Polosky and Dan Evans.
The beautiful moonlight waters of Walker Lake provided a back drop for fireworks display presented by the Navy. Pyrotechnics used for military purposes in time of war added to the usual features of the display. Many proclaimed that this one was even better than the one last July 4th.
Saturdays events concluded with a dance at the gymnasium which was packed with dance fans whose western clothes and long beards contrasted to the jitterbugging of the younger generation. Sundays program opened with an aviator’s breakfast with more than fifty visitors flying in from various parts of Nevada and California. The parade started at 11:30 on Sunday morning from 10th and Main street and made its way uphill before turning on 5th street and heading to the rodeo grounds. The parade was very well received and one any city in Nevada would have been proud of.
The numerous floats and mobile displays represented business firms, fraternal and military organizations. Many individuals were also represented along with various marching units. The horsemen and women were out in all their western finery, on their beautiful mounts, preparing for the big rodeo. Major Olin Beal, commanding officer of NAD marine barracks, served as parade marshal with the MCHS band providing music for the parade. Upon reaching the rodeo grounds (now west Lakeview) people began to file into the arena until a crowd of 2,800 spectators were on hand for one of the finest shows ever presented in the state.