Glen Eyrie festival extols patriotism, honors heroes
An estimated crowd of more than 2,000 people attended the second annual Patriots' Festival at Glen Eyrie Sept. 10.
Timed for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorist attacks, the event was meant as a “community celebration” and thank-you to soldiers, police and firefighters who risk their lives for other citizens.
“They seemed to really appreciate being honored,” said Torie Giffin, lead organizer for Chick-Fil-A, the event's main sponsor. “And the people doing the honoring seemed to feel part of something special.”
The festival included bike rides, information booths, public safety equipment displays, children's activities, live music and a noontime ceremony that featured words from two-time astronaut Michael Good and Major General (Ret.) Bentley Rayburn.
Good, whose appearance was arranged through the Space Foundation, commented that many see him as a “hero” for his work in space, but “my particular heroism pales against the police and firefighters and the soldiers fighting in foreign lands.”
Rayburn's role was to introduce a moment of silence for those who have died in the aid or defense of their fellow Americans and for those “continuing in this battle against these radical terrorists.”
Among the volunteer groups helping out was Coronado High cheerleading squad, which was among those from four high schools that handled the event's face-painting of kids. “We were asked to do this, and we said 'Absolutely,' ” said Jamie Brown, the cheerleading advisor. “A couple of our girls have dads who were in the military.”
The festival actually had its start six years ago, when Randy and Linda Watson started it at their Chick-Fil-A franchise in Littleton. After taking on the new Garden of the Gods Road franchise in Colorado Springs, they sponsored a similarly themed day last September using that store and nearby Colorado Technical University, then decided to seek a bigger venue this year in an agreement with the Navigators organization, which owns Glen Eyrie (the former home of Colorado Springs founder William Palmer).
Giffin, Chick-Fil-A marketing director, said that about 500 people joined a pre-festival bicycling tour (14 or 28 miles on pre-designated routes), with their participation fees going to charities for soldiers, police and firefighters. Other event proceeds also were designated for that purpose.
Awards were given for riders who dressed the most patriotically. “We had one [bicycle] team riding for a friend who had died in the Twin Towers,” she said. “It was pretty emotional for them.”
Because of limited parking, those who drove to the event were asked to park at the nearby Verizon complex's parking lot and be shuttled in, but this all seemed to go smoothly, with six buses running every five minutes, Giffin said.
A contracted organizing agency talked to vendors at the event, and all said they would like to do it again, she reported.
She expects there will be a third annual, possibly at Glen Eyrie again, although such details are yet to be determined.
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