Smaller picnic crowd in new center venue

       Despite a somewhat smaller crowd at the new location, the 11th annual Westside Neighbors Picnic seemed to be popular with a crowd of 100-plus people July 23.

John Wise (standup bass) and Tim Zahn (keyboards) play for diners during the Westside Picnic July 23.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) planned the free event, making use of the only tree-shaded, grassy area at the Westside Community Center - in front of the Billie Spielman Center facing onto Bijou Street between 16th and 17th streets.
       As in past years at Bancroft Park, a band played and volunteers barbecued brats and hotdogs and provided side dishes and lemonade. Attendees, most of whom stayed for nearly all the planned two hours, sat at picnic tables that had been set out or they spread blankets on the grass.
       People were also invited to tour the Westside Community Center's building facilities, to use sports equipment such as basketballs or horseshoes or to join the partially simultaneous Wheelchair Wash event being offered by the non-profit disabled support entity, Joni and Friends.
       “It was nice,” said Terry Brunette, OWN treasurer who, doubled again this year as head barbecue chef. “There wasn't any traffic noise, like at Bancroft. There was more of a neighborhood atmosphere.”
       The general consensus was that West is more of a “destination” site, whereas Bancroft's proximity to Old Colorado City used to attract passersby.
       No crowd estimate was offered, but Brunette said a total of 330 brats and hotdogs were cooked up (compared with 375 last year at Bancroft) with 60 left over.
       OWN decided to move the event to the Westside Center this year to support the group's Westside outreach and save the expense of renting Bancroft Park from the city.
       The food was provided from OWN funds and donations. A run to Manitou's 7-Minute Spring gave a boost to the lemonade.
       The picnic attracted a few local politicians, including State Rep. Pete Lee, whose District 18 includes the older Westside; and City Councilmember Lisa Czelatdko, whose District 3 does the same. Also on hand was City Councilmember Bernie Herpin, whose District 4 is on the southeast side of town. “My district is east of Academy,” Herpin quipped. “I had to get a visa to come over here.”
       Run by volunteers, OWN is the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside, with its funding coming from a share of the city's allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

Westside Pioneer article