Centennial of Garden gift recalled with speeches, ‘parade’

       Arriving either on foot or by shuttle bus, close to 200 people converged below a famous old plaque at the Garden of the Gods City Park on a warm and sunny Oct. 17 morning to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of its gift and to rededicate it as a park.

Flanked by Mayor Lionel Rivera (right) and City Parks staffer Kim King, Southern Ute Elder Alden Naranjo performs a blessing ceremony Oct. 17 during a Garden of the Gods rededication. On the rock face behind them is a 100-year-old plaque in the North Gateway Rock formation memorializing the Perkins family's gift of the Garden's first 240 acres.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The plaque, bolted into the North Gateway Rock formation, reads: “The Garden of the Gods - Given to the City of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins in fulfillment of his wish that it be kept forever free to the public.”

A parade from the Visitor Center to the plaque site numbered 100 or more, including Patches the Cow from Rock Ledge Ranch.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The event for the Garden's first 240 acres featured talks by Mayor Lionel Rivera and Cultural Services Director Matt Mayberry, preceded by a ceremonial blessing by Southern Ute Elder Alden Naranjo.
       In keeping with event plans, the hike along a Garden trail to the plaque site constituted a “parade.” People started at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center parking lot (less than a mile away). The idea was that anyone could join in, with Garden supporter/user groups especially invited. The most prominent paraders were a contingent of docents from the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. They were dressed in 1800s clothing and escorted Patches, the ranch cow.
       During his blessing, Naranjo used a burning piece of sage that he held in one hand and an eagle's wing in the other. Beforehand, he noted how his people had called the area home for many years, with an earlier band of Utes believing it the center of the world. Alluding to the often-told story of the Garden of the Gods' naming (that it was a garden “fit for the Gods” rather than for beer), Naranjo offered thanks to all the people since then “who made a park out of this and not a beer garden.”
       In their speeches, both Rivera and Mayberry recalled their individual first times at the Garden, both many years ago. Rivera, from Texas, ran in a 10-mile race (wondering where the oxygen was), and Mayberry joined a group of teenagers to climb White Rock in a thunderstorm.
       Rivera also used his speech to address city ballot questions 2C and 300, urging yes on the former and no on the latter. Evoking the memory of Colorado Springs founder William Palmer, the mayor predicted that if the election goes the other way on either or both, “General Palmer's vision for the community would be sorely lacking.”
       Mayberry focused on the past, present and future. For visual aids, there were a Rock Ledge covered wagon, a 1910 Everitt car (owned and “babied” since 1967, according to owners Robert and Janora Tittle) and a current-model Prius hybrid - all of which were parked nearby. Looking back, Mayberry noted that 100 years ago Colorado Springs had just 20,000 residents and more horse troughs than drinking fountains. Looking ahead, he asked the citizens of today to treat the Garden of the Gods “like a treasured family heirloom… until it's time for our children to inherit it.”

Westside Pioneer article