Probable crowd record at Territory Days
A crowd estimated at up to 150,000 thronged to the 30th annual Territory Days in Old Colorado City over Memorial Day weekend.
“It was an unbelievable year,” organizer Lynda Dunne said afterward.
“We had record-breaking numbers. It's been a while (because of inconsistent weather) since we've had three nearly perfect days for Territory Days. And people had so much fun. I'm still getting calls.”
Featuring various activities, entertainment and more than 200 vendor booths along four closed-off Colorado Avenue blocks in Old Colorado City's Historic Business district, the free festival is not only the biggest event the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group puts on every year, it is one of the biggest annual gatherings in the region.
In other good news, Dunne reported that, despite advance concerns, no major problems surfaced in the surrounding neighborhoods, in terms of trash, parking or disorderly behavior by event-goers. The OCCA, with help from City Parks, had held meetings with concerned neighbors and, in response, bolstered cleanup efforts (in-cluding trash boxes at every corner of the nearby streets) and police enforcement this year. Parking citation totals were not available at press time, but the preliminary tallies from Colorado Springs Police - who had announced beforehand they would strictly enforce the laws - indicated the number of tickets may have exceeded 500 for the three days.
Hundreds of attendees avoided parking issues by leaving their vehicles at Coronado High School and using a heavily advertised shuttle bus that was provided free for the first time this year by the OCCA. “We got a report that it was so handy and the high school lot was packed with cars,” said Nancy Stovall, executive director of the OCCA. At one point on the first day (May 27), the number of people exceeded the number of buses, resulting in a one-hour wait for some people, but this was alleviated by calling in a third bus, Dunne said.
Aimee Cox of City Parks said she drove through the neighborhoods Tuesday morning and was impressed by the relative cleanliness. The worst she saw was a four- block stretch of Platte Avenue in which she counted 20 discarded containers, one diaper and several napkins - some of which may not even have come from Territory Days. “So it wasn't like they were knee-deep in rubbish,” she said.
Parks had represented the city in trying to respond to neighborhood issues stemming from Territory Days. The department made temporary signs announcing the parking enforcement and gave away these and flowers to neighbors who came and got them.
Dunne said she was pleased to learn that some residents had waved and said thank you when crews from Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful (contracted for the event by OCCA) came through with their trash bags.
New this year at Territory Days were the Gaming Parlor, where people could learn how to play poker and other games of chance in an old-timey setting; as well as a Memorial Day ceremony, which included a speech by U.S. Army Colonel Randy Fritz, a Colorado resident who was about to return for his third tour in Iraq. (See Page 3 guest column for text of much of the speech). Other ceremony personalities were County Commissioner Sallie Clark, City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, Westside civic leader Dave Hughes and guitarist Jerry Brown.
Territory Days visitors also had greeters this year - actors from Red Herring Productions who strolled along the street in historic garb. One of these, Star Edgington, said that people sometimes get “edgy” at events where there are lots of people, and she believed that when people are greeted, “they don't feel as edgy, especially the kids.”
Other continuing activities and events retained their popularity, including the American Indian dancers, the musical acts in Bancroft Park and on the street, the gold- panning, the children's rides and the gunfight reenactments.
Westside Pioneer article