Territory Days draws close to 100,000 despite rain first 2 daysIntermittent downpours hampered but did not halt the 40th annual Territory Days in Old Colorado City May 23-25.
“We didn't cancel anything,” said Jim Wear, the event organizer for the sponsoring Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group. “We had some breaks when we had lightning, but then we started back up again.”
For merchants with storefronts in Old Colorado City, the rain worked in their favor. “When it rains, people go inside,” he said.
A similar phenomenon was reported by Dave Van Ness, executive director of the OCCA, who oversaw activities at the group's recently opened Welcome Center. This was the first Territory Days for the center, at 2324 W. Colorado Ave.,
Julie Fabrizio, the OCCA president, also offered positive comments about this year's event, adding the compliment that Pro Promotions, Wear's company, would leave the historic district looking “cleaner than before Territory Days started.”
Primarily occurring during the first two days, the rain did reduce the attendance somewhat. Wear said the numbers May 23-24 were about equal to those on Memorial Day (the 25th), when the sun was out and temperatures rose into the upper 60s. As a result, the overall total was 80,000 to 100,000, Wear estimated.
Featuring live music, special attractions and about 200 vendors, the free festival closes off Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets for the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Net income from the event, typically exceeding $100,000, is used by the OCCA for promotional activities and advertising throughout the year.
The attendees were mostly well-behaved. Wear said the only incidents he knew of were a shoplifting arrest
The streets around the festival were packed with parked cars, which is typical, although the event seeks to reduce that impact by providing shuttle buses that run regularly throughout each day. Also, police are usually on the lookout for parking violators.
What brought Wear particular satisfaction with this year's Territory Days was being able to schedule the Air Force Honor Guard and Drill Team from Washington, D.C. The 11-member Honor Guard presented the colors for the event's Memorial Day ceremony in Bancroft Park; after that, the 14-member drill team (wearing sunglasses) performed a series of precision drills that frequently involved tossing and catching 13-pound, bayonet-attached M-1 rifles.
Wear makes a point of emphasizing the meaning of Memorial Day - which honors all of America's war dead - at each Territory Days.
“Weren't they cool?” Wear said of the Air Force Drill Team afterward. “We were really fortunate that they could make it.”
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