You haven't been to a party till you've been to a Buck Rainey party.
I've been to a few, mostly back when they were held at the Peppermill in Reno (the winter versions, anyway). But 2009 was my first experience at the Washington Party, spawn of Peppermill.
Postmaster Buck -- chief mail sifter for the little town of Washington -- is the consummate host, and he goes all out.
After trekking to Reno got too cumbersome, with the oft-impassable Donner Pass limiting attendance, Buck decided to bring his year-end bash back to Nevada County -- and he brought the casino along with him. Buck built by hand a regulation-size craps table, a blackjack table and a roulette table. Once a year, he lugs all of them into the dining room at the Washington Hotel and sets up the sweetest casino the sleepy little town has seen in centuries. (See the pics of Buck building the tables and more information about Buck's party-planning at The Wild Buck website (login: "guest" pass: "friend").)
Friends come from far and wide to gamble freely and imbibe deeply. Nevada City's harpist sensation Joanna Newsom and her beau, SNL's Andy Samberg, are regular attendees. Washington's population comes close to doubling on that night, and it's quite likely that the hotel (and bar) makes more money on that single night than it does during any single month the rest of the year.
Sure, it's an excuse for everyone to party like only Nevada City crits know how -- uproariously. But in the end, it's a big benefit for the host town. The hotel rakes in fistfuls of cash, sure, but all the gambling benefits go to the town council. Some $800 was donated this year. It will help pay for the town's electric bill and go towards building a new stone sign at the city limits.
This year's bash is still in the earliest of planning stages, but if you are anywhere near Nevada County around Christmastime 2010, it is an event not to be missed.