Kids in Las Vegas are home from school today. Henderson municipal workers and Clark County court employees have the day off. Public libraries are shuttered all around Nevada. Even UNLV is taking the day off.
Why? To celebrate Nevada Day, of course. Every year, on the last Friday in October, Silver State government offices close to commemorate the anniversary of the state’s admission to the union, Oct. 31, 1864. The Nevada legislature voted to make the day an official holiday in 1933.
More than a few states have their own holidays, real or invented. Your GovBeat editor had a friend in college from Massachusetts, where the third Monday in April is Patriot’s Day; even though our friend no longer lived in Massachusetts, he refused to go to class on Patriot’s Day.
Far be it from us to criticize state-specific holidays, so here are a few states that take time off while the rest of us work:
Georgia: The first colonists to settle Georgia landed at Yamacraw Bluff on Feb. 12, 1733. Savannah celebrates the day with a parade, though it was canceled this year due to inclement weather. Oddly, the first settlers actually landed Feb. 1, according to the Julian Calendar, but the date got shifted to the 12th after England adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, according to the University of Georgia. Alabama, Indiana, Alaska and Missouri all celebrate their foundings with days off for some workers.
Wisconsin: School kids in Wisconsin get to stay home on all kinds of holidays. The state Department of Education lists 21 days off, including Mildred Fish Harnack Day (Sept. 16), celebrating the only native-born American to be killed by the Gestapo; Casimir Pulaski Day (March 4), celebrating the Polish general who saved George Washington’s life; and Robert La Follette Sr. Day (June 14), honoring the late senator and 1924 presidential candidate.
Hawaii: The only U.S. state to have been ruled by a non-British monarch is also the only state to celebrate holidays dedicated to royalty. The state government is closed March 26 for Prince Jonah Kuhlo Kalanianaole Day, and June 11 for King Kamehameha I Day (Kamehameha is also the only monarch with a statue in Statuary Hall; the statue is draped in leis on his holiday).
Alaska: What was once considered a folly is now a state holiday. Alaska celebrates Seward’s Day on the last Monday in March, around the anniversary of the March 30, 1867, signing of the Alaska Purchase treaty. William Seward gets the last laugh, and state workers get the day off.
Texas: Skeleton crews are required at state agencies April 21, when the state celebrates San Jacinto Day, the anniversary of Texas winning its independence from Mexico. Plenty of state workers also get the day off Aug. 27, in honor of Lyndon Johnson’s birthday.
Missouri: President Harry Truman almost had his special day revoked. State workers get to take a paid holiday May 8 in honor of the 33rd president’s birthday. But in 2010, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) tried to kill the holiday to save the state some money. The General Assembly didn’t go along; instead, they cut the reimbursement rates for mileage traveled by state workers to make up for the paid time off.
Utah: The Beehive State celebrates Pioneer Day, the date on which Brigham Young and his settlers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, on July 24. Some members of the LDS Church celebrate by walking the trail Young and his settlers traveled into the valley.
Vermont: State workers get a paid holiday to remember a battle that didn’t even happen in Vermont. The Battle of Bennington took place in New York in 1777, but it was so named because American revolutionaries who stopped the British army were headed to a weapons cache in Bennington. State workers get the third Friday in August off.
Kentucky: Everyone takes the Friday after Thanksgiving off, so why not make it a state holiday? Kentucky workers get the day off, plus Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. We’re surprised that there’s no time off for the first two days of March Madness (though state employees can take a half day on Good Friday, which falls during the tournament).
Any other state-specific holidays we missed? Drop us an e-mail and let us know.