|The 2007 Denver Parade of Lights
by Stormy on November 30, 2007
Every year the Downtown Denver Partnership inaugurates the holiday shopping season with the Denver Parade of Lights.
It's Friday night and this marmot is getting a night on the town. There's an old tradition in Denver to have a parade the weekend after Thanksgiving to remind the populace that downtown Denver isn't just all about tall buildings and corporate America. It's also about a multitude of stores that compete with the suburban malls for the consumer's dollar. The celebration includes the lighting of the holiday lights at Denver's City Hall and a live televised night time parade of bands and floats and clowns and jugglers, all beautifully lit up for the night.
I got an opportunity to see the parade from the front lines, where staff battles the schedule, crowds and occasional drunks to create a flawless spectacle. It was a wonderful experience to see the parade as staff see it, dodging floats and walking along side the bands.
Ahead of the parade, staff and participants break up into teams and invade downtown fast food joints to catch dinner, get a briefing and assignments and any last minute instructions. My group met at the Arby's at 11th and Broadway, a restaurant which apparently had served this group for a good twenty years. Sadly, it was under new management and after the parade ended, staff discovered that a number of their cars had been towed away! The manager of the restaurant turned out to be a coward and when confronted hid in his office and refused to see anyone.
The following morning the news of the event reached the management of the Downtown Denver Partnership, which is the business owners association for the downtown area. The towing of the vehicles was a scandal. The Arby's, it turned out, was also getting a cut of the impound fees, a quick business opportunity on the backs of the people who volunteer their time to assist the parade. The Downtown Denver Partnership paid the impound fees rather than fight with the restaurant's manager, who continued to dodge the questions. The association was more concerned in recognizing the efforts of the volunteers and not penalizing them for helping in the event.
The Arby's on 11th and Broadway? They're not going to be getting business from the dozens of volunteers who used to rely on them for a meal and a place to park!
Oh, and the parade. That, of course, was amazing!