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On January 31, Book Bar hosted a closing ceremony to celebrate its 10 years of business and to support the owner, Nicole Hann Sullivan’s next steps. Old and new friends and staff joined together to not only mourn, but to rejoice that they experienced Book Bar in their lifetime.

“There’s no other bookstore that has a wine bar, like just a combo of a wine bar and bookstore where you can come and get a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and leave, “said Susan Dunn who has been a guest at Book Bar’s Tennyson Street home for a decade.

On the final day of business, Book Bar held an all day bash that consisted of a 40% off book sales, story times, an author event and an open mic event in the evening. Guests expressed their fondness towards Book Bar in the form of poetry, song and written pieces at the open mic which was emceed by Miss Shirley Delta Blow, longtime friend of Book Bar and third grade teacher at the Studio School in Northglenn.

“We cry because we are here,” said Blow as she started the open mic and encouraged guests to gather around. 

Kids who grew up reading and learning at Book Bar participated in the open mic event. One child, Scout, wrote a song inspired by Book Bar, one of her favorite places to go. Another volunteer named John, presented a written piece called “The Final Run,” about appreciating Book Bar as a favorite place to write. 

“We hoped that the long summer evening at the Book Bar would never end,” said John. “These moments are transitory, fleeting at best.  I got to be here in this place and that’s no small thing.”

Guests throughout the evening spoke about their favorite memories at the Book Bar. One guest speaker spoke about hosting Halloween talks around the fire at Book Bar’s patio where people could come and talk about their experiences with the paranormal. Kristina Atsalis, Book Bar guest of two years, also remembered a fond memory on the patio. 

“It was a random day on my own. I got a glass of wine and a book and sat by the fire outside. There was this one other lady there and we chatted for a little bit, but it was peaceful. It was my first time back there. It was kind of magical.” said Atsalis.  

“One time, it was probably five, six or seven years ago, some of my girlfriends and I had a book club and we met here,” said Susan Dunn. “The author of the book actually came to our book club to meet with us. I read her book and loved it and she came and met with us so we could have wine and snacks and meet the real author!”

Performer, hostess, and drag queen Miss Shirley Delta Blow, spoke about how important it is for bookstores to host all kinds of social events for the community. 

“I think everybody should have a little drag queen story time. I mean, because seeing someone like me, you know, exposing kids to people who are different from them, it opens worlds of possibilities. Just like opening a book! If I read a story about someone that I don’t know or something that I’ve never experienced, then my life is richer because of that,” said Blow.

In a September annoucement, Sullivan said that she was closing the Book Bar because of rising costs and a desire to slow down and spend more time with her family.  Her attention would shift to her other bookstore, The Bookies, and the non-profit Book Give, which donates books through the community.  She also has yet unannounced plans for the space which will continue building community. Guests hope that the future of Book Bar’s space continues to inspire dialogue and the sharing of ideas. 

“I hope it continues to do that type of thing where people come together from different experiences or different backgrounds,” said Blow. “If somebody says, hey this thing is really important, then I can start to expand my thinking and understanding and can be a neighbor, ally, partner or fighter or whatever I need to do. I think that’s an important thing: places to continue dialogue so that we can continue to find that common ground as opposed to continually being us versus them kind of mentality.”

As guests drank, read, talked, and cried (just a little), the time finally arrived for Nicole Hann Sullivan to step up to the mic for a final toast. 

“I really don’t want to take up a lot of time because I want to talk with all of you and you talk with one another because that’s what this place is all about,” said Sullivan as she pulled up her glasses to the top of her head.

Sullivan thanks her staff for giving her space and holding down the fort which allowed her to navigate these past months more smoothly.

“It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but also it’s necessary. Change is good, it’s not always bad, even if you are changing something that has been a very good and positive thing. Sometimes good things end and that’s not a terrible thing because other good things can come out of that,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan was planning on announcing what’s next for this space on Tennyson which she owns but changed her mind.

“I don’t want to talk about what comes next. I want to talk about right now and the past and all the good things that have happened in this space that we really need to have time to mourn and appreciate. To think about what these walls have seen in the past 10 years.” 

Sullivan reflects on the many beginnings that Book Bar has seen and how first dates led to weddings then baby showers. 

“I don’t know what comes next after baby showers,” said Sullivan. 

“STORY TIME!” someone shouts.

Sullivan laughs and the crowd cheers. Before starting again, Sullivan takes a deep breath. 

“And now we are all here for an ending.”

Sullivan continues through her toast thanking everyone who has helped her along the way.

“I have one more thing to say and I might get in trouble,” Sullivan said. The crowd encouraged her to say it anyway. “Open bar for the rest of the night!” 

With that, guests ran to the bar for one final drink and others scattered around to have one last conversation as the story ended inside Book Bar.

On January 31, Book Bar hosted a

We are constantly asked: “what is going on in the residential real estate market?”; and this year it feels as if there are more people than ever wanting to know what 2023 will bring.  We wish we had a crystal ball with an easy answer, but it is unfortunately not that simple.  What we do have is historical data and recent market data to help us answer this question.

Let’s go back over a few key points from the 2022 market before we predict what 2023 may bring our way…   

In June 2022 when the interest rates increased above 6%, the metro area market almost came to a standstill as buyers tried to wrap their heads around the loss of buying power & sellers tried to understand why they didn’t receive multiple offers the first weekend on the market.  Those of us that had just put listings on the market, pricing them with the comparative sales for the past 3 months; found that our sellers had to make some substantial price reductions to get the properties sold. It was a 180 degree turn from what had been happening for the previous 5 months of 2022; when we had been receiving numerous offers at prices well over the list price after only being on the market for a day or two.  

As with all things real estate, buyers & sellers needed some time to absorb what was going on, lenders needed to get creative so buyers could still afford to purchase properties; and the market in metro Denver needed to correct itself.  After enjoying 8.15% appreciation (www.fhfa.gov) over the first 2 quarters of 2022, we found that to sell a property in the 2nd half of the year we needed to price listings approximately 10% below where we would have priced them in spring. We feel that this was a much-needed correction to the metro area market.  After 10 ½ years of exceptional appreciation in the metro area, most homeowners have so much equity in their homes that this small correction did not have any effect on them.  

Due to the continued low inventory over the 2nd half of the year, even with higher interest rates, we did not shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.  We still had less than 2 month’s supply of properties averaged out on all price points, and we can’t even start to think “buyer’s market” until we have 6 months or more of inventory.  What did happen for buyers was that they suddenly were able to purchase a house for list price, or in many cases less, AND many were able to get a seller concession to buy down their interest rate or enough for a 2-1 rate buydown. (This is where the lenders got creative and is a whole other discussion that I would love to have if you want to reach out).  Buyers also had a lot more negotiating power over inspection items which was a much-welcomed change for them!

We know that the demand was many, many times higher than the supply for those first 5 months of 2022 AND we also know that all those buyers didn’t just disappear from the metro area market. The question is, when are they going to jump back in?  Typically (not including 2020-2022 as they are outlier years) the market really heats back up in March and stays that way through the end of June, but; based on the increase in the number of showings for the first two weeks in January and the increase in pending properties, it appears that more buyers are already getting back in the game. 

 

In the past week showings increased by 14.5% while the number of new listings increased by 17%.  We saw 813 units go under contract which was an 18.7% over the previous week. “I still firmly believe that the market will pick up directly following Super Bowl weekend whereas in the past we have seen purchase contracts increase by over 40% over the previous week.(Megan Aller ~ First American Title, data from RE Colorado.) 

We would recommend buyers get out and look now while the inventory is rising, hopefully at a higher pace, than the number of buyers entering the market.  Once March hits and we have more buyers come to the market, supply will most likely tighten up even more as many current homeowners choose to stay in their home with a very low interest rate rather than putting it on the market for sale.  While interest rates still may be a bit higher than many buyers would like, we like to say: “Date the rate, marry the property and divorce renting”.  You can refinance when the rates come back down a bit as everyone believes will happen, and maybe even later this year.  It is less expensive to buy now and refinance later than to wait for an interest rate drop as at that point prices will start to rise again quickly.   

We would recommend sellers begin the process now of getting your house ready to put on the market.  Based on the uptick that we have already seen in activity over the first few weeks of January, we do believe that the prime time to get your house on the market for sale will be mid-February through June.  Pricing the property correctly is of utmost importance, with expertise marketing & having your house “show ready” being the second & third most important factors.  Mark & I have over 40 years of combined real estate experience and would love to answer any questions you may have with regards to buying or selling a property in 2023.

Kelly & Mark Williams                                                       

Broker Associates/Modus Real Estate

We are constantly asked: “what is going

You’ve heard of food trucks for people, but what about a food truck for your furry family members? Tiffany Brown, the owner of Bone Apetreat!, has created just that: a dog food truck that caters to our beloved four-legged friends. This dog food truck sells Barkuterie Boards, Paws-Noir, “Fitos” (not Titos). They even have options for cats, too! It’s hard to miss the bright blue Mercedes Sprinter vans when they’re out on display, decked out with paw prints, bones, and photos of Brown’s German Shepard, Graham.

Brown first began brainstorming ideas for her business when the pandemic hit. She used to work in corporate America for a large liquor distributor managing a big portfolio of wines for nearly two decades.

“I was the go-to person between the wine supplier and the sales team. So I told them what we’re gonna sell, how we’re gonna sell it, gave them sales goals, managed inventory, managed pricing. So a lot of that was super helpful in doing what I’m doing now,” Brown explained. 

When the pandemic hit, Brown took it as an opportunity to reevaluate what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She moved from Chicago back to her parents’ home and knew she wanted to start a business that had to do with dogs. She bounced ideas off of her folks for a dog-centric business she could launch, and settled on the idea for a dog food truck. Her 12 year old nephew came up with the idea for naming the food truck “Bone Apetreat!”

 In January 2021, they were up and running. Unlike many small businesses, the pandemic seemed to be helpful to Bone Apetreat.

“During the pandemic, a lot of people adopted dogs; it was great. So the actual dog owner community grew significantly. On top of that, people were looking for safe ways to get out of their house, and we were able to provide them with that,” Brown said.

Bone Apetreat! schedules its events months in advance. It can be found at places such as Golden, Colorado’s Goldens in Golden on February 4, where thousands of Golden Retrievers gather to celebrate their unique heritage on National Golden Retriever Day. The truck is also found at farmers markets in the summertime. During the winter months, Bone Apetreat! can often be found parked in LoDo, Highlands and Denver suburbs. 

Bone Apetreat! only keeps five employees. One of the biggest struggles working in corporate America, according to Brown, was feeling that other people interacted with your customers differently than you would interact with them or being stuck “waiting to provide somebody with something because you were depending on someone else that was taking too long.” 

“One of the things that I love about owning my own business is that I’m the only one that is responsible for interacting with our customers, making sure every experience is a positive one, getting them what they need in a timely manner. As much as it’s super hard to be the director of every single department it’s also rewarding because you know that everything’s going to be done the way that you want it to be done.”

Bone Apetreat! doesn’t only cater to dog lovers, though! For all cat lovers out there, Bone Apetreat! has a place for you.

“I think our most memorable customer was a hairless cat that came to the truck and he crawled inside the truck and was like the most muscular animal I’ve ever seen in my life. He was really enjoying himself. So yeah,” chuckled Brown.

You’ve heard of food trucks for people,

The American Indian Academy of Denver will not be closing its doors to students this school year, but students and teachers remain in a fog of uncertainty, not knowing what to expect for the next academic year.

“The announcement of AIAD closing broke our hearts. The school means a lot to people, even if we are an under-enrolled school,” said Galilea Cano, a ninth-grader who attends AIAD with her eighth-grade brother Axel.

“The school is special to me because it’s actually one of the first schools that I ever went to that let me be myself and let me become who I am now and to like it,” said Galilea.  “We didn’t really know much about what happened in the past because we were whitewashed until we started going to this school.”

In a communications sent on October 22nd, Denver Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Alex Marrero, discussed the future plans for AIAD. He acknowledged that with any DPS school, student enrollment “drives the fiscal foundation of a school. Low enrollment equates to fewer financial resources to operate a school.” 

“The school is currently slated to run out of funds by February 2023, says DPS spokesperson Rachel Childress.  “Denver Public Schools has offered to partner with AIAD to bolster the Native American programming at DCIS Baker in an effort to serve the students currently enrolled at AIAD.”

The plans will begin at the start of the 2023-2024 school year. Current Principal, Rachel Bachmann, who is Dakota, reflects on what would happen if AIAD closes its doors. 

“The biggest detriment is that we’d have 140 students who are missing out on their language and culture and their ability to really dive in and learn their subjects with their language and culture attached to it,” said Bachmann. “We have indigenized STEAM. It’s not just science and math, it’s tailored to teach students about their language and culture within that. That would be lost.”

AIAD greatly prioritizes the idea of a safe space that allows students to explore their identities. Upon entering the school you are greeted with a ‘welcome’ sign and the sound of students enthusiastically interacting with peers and teachers during their passing periods. People are immersed in a pool of culture as they walk into the school and see student artwork on display that portrays Indigenous culture. Signs say “Are you being a good relative today?” This is an important question that students are encouraged to ask themselves throughout their day. 

Axel and Galilea Cano, have been attending AIAD since it opened in 2020. The way each Cano sibling talks about their school shows that they have an appreciation for it that runs deeper than just school spirit. To them, it’s not a school where you are just a number, but a safe space where you are equal and truly cared for by teachers and peers.

“Being safe as an indigenous human is that we have been so unsafe for years. We haven’t been able to look the way we want to look, dress the way we want to dress, to practice the culture,” said Bachmann. “When you talk about a safe space, it’s a space to do that too.”

To Axel and Galilea, a safe space starts by looking at how teachers treat students. 

“All these teachers want to get to know you better. They are always here for you whenever you break down, or whenever you’re sad. You can always ask them a question without being sad or scared,” said Galilea. 

Axel adds, “A reason why I like this school is the teachers. You can make strong bonds with them and they care about what you say.”

With a safe space comes being able to explore identity as well as spirituality, according to Bachmann. She reflects on her time as a student and realizes that she was taught to think about her culture and identity in a certain way. 

“It’s almost like I was taught in a way that Indigenous people aren’t even around anymore, like a ‘has-been’ type of thing, and that there’s still not indigenous communities alive and thriving anywhere,” said Bachmann.

Bachmann’s experience as a student serves as motivation to help students reconnect with their identities at AIAD. Galilea has learned about her native history and her own culture, which she has never been able to do in other schools. 

Galilea says that the most eye-opening thing she has learned at AIAD was that people in history have tried to cover up tragedies and massacres. Most holidays, such as Thanksgiving, she says serve as cover-ups. Celebration on certain holidays hides a whole genocide of her people. For Axel, teachings at AIAD, has taught him to be a better peer to his fellow classmates. 

“I read something about the Aztecs and how they had very advanced agriculture and stewards, but everything was based around each other. They chose the needs of the community over an individual which made me open my eyes to caring more about my peers rather than myself,” said Axel.

At AIAD, Axel is currently learning Diné, which is one of the three languages taught at his school. The other languages are Lakota and Spanish. To Bachmann, learning languages is also a way of enforcing identity and revitalizing culture and language. 

“By providing the language here and providing this education, we’re demanding our culture back and we’re taking it because we don’t have to ask anybody,” said Bachmann. “So like Axel was saying, he’s Mexica in a Diné class and his sister is in the Lakota class. They get to explore this world of indigeneity in ways that no other school provides,” said Bachmann.

Spirituality is another key theme in a safe space. Bachmann points to traditional medicines on the table in her office.  To Bachmann, religion is culture. 

“We have our culture with our beliefs. Oh, you’re practicing religion? No, it’s cultural that we burn our medicines and put the smoke up in the air. It’s a belief system, but it’s cultural.”

This value of spiritual safety can be seen in the after-school club that Axel participates in where they had recently dissected a bird, but did it in an honorary way that taught the students to value the bird and its parts.

AIAD stands firm in their Lakota and Diné through their curriculum of how to be a good relative through the chant “Mitakuye Oyasin” which translates to “we are all related.” The curriculum is based on the four Rs which are respect, responsibility, relationships, and reciprocity.

“The reason why we prioritize safe space is because other schools don’t and won’t. They might say they do, but the thing is there’s a grander understanding of indigeneity at the school because that’s what the values are founded upon.  I do know that as a student myself, at one point, there wasn’t support for my indigeneity,” said Bachmann.

Bachmann encourages other schools to build relationships with their students and to understand how culture can impact who a student is and how they go about life. Understanding that all people’s history is American history is another important factor in trying to create a safe space to support their indigeneity.

“Don’t get me wrong. The spirits of our students are really strong and they’ll want to say that they will be okay, but spiritually, there’s going to be that connection and a big piece missing from the community,” said Bachmann. 

The American Indian Academy of Denver will

One of Denver’s most prominent photojournalists of the 1980’s and 1990’s is displayed in a new exhibit of local artists at History Colorado.. Robert Weinberg is best known for his work at the Intermountain Jewish News and has donated a collection of portraits and photographs to the museum.

Curator and Public Engagement Manager Jeremy Morton, a Denver native, says working with Weinberg was a rewarding experience because he “grew up with him” and his photographs in the late 80s and early 90s. 

“Robert’s work consists of his experiences and others’ experiences in Denver,” Morton says, “It means a lot because he’s so nice.”

Robert Weinberg’s love for photography sparked when he was a senior in high school taking a photography elective. He used a pinhole camera and printed on paper to take his first photo in early 1965. After graduating from high school, he joined the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), an organization similar to the modern day Peace Corps, and Weinberg thought to himself “Why the hell don’t I have a camera?” 

At 19 years old Weinberg bought his first camera and began photographing everybody.

“Once I picked up that camera and started working with it, it was really rewarding and fun,” Weinberg says.  “At one point I had three day jobs in photography,” he added. “That’s when my life really started in photography.”

Weinberg began shooting weddings and professional portraits before moving into photojournalism. He documented a diverse collection of people in the Mile High City. His work documented people like Leonder Taylor, a homeless man, and dancer Cleo Parker Robinson. Weinberg also had a chance to photograph President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.

Weinberg began to lose his vision in the mid 1990s and by 1998 he was legally blind. He continued to take photos after he began to lose his sight. Countless of his images are told through the story of light and dark, or the parts of the images that Weinberg could still see.

“I went to an optometrist and I said ‘what’s going on? I can’t see some things’ and he did all this testing and he told me ‘you’re legally blind’” Weinberg says.

Weinberg struggled with depression when he first lost his sight. He turned to The Colorado Center for the Blind, and support groups to find new meaning in his life. Now Weinberg spends his time listening to audiobooks and helping other people who are losing their vision find tools to remain independent.

The last six or seven years is when Weinberg started to consider preserving his legacy and passion for photography. The importance to him is sharing the art he can no longer enjoy for a wider audience. Each photograph has an accompanying description of the photo in Braille to make the gallery more accessible to the visually impaired.  Weinberg’s images will be on display on the mezzanine until January 2024.

One of Denver’s most prominent photojournalists of

The corner of Alameda and Federal was packed with people, flowers and dragons on January 22 to mark the beginning of the Lunar New Year.  Whether it’s called Chinese New Year in Chinese culture, Seollal in Korean culture or Tết in Vietnamese culture, it’s always a joyful time. This is the Year of the Rabbit based on the Chinese zodiac signs and should be full of peace and prosperity. Those born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to experience good fortune and patience. 

“The Year of the Rabbit is going to be full of good luck, good health, and prosperity and, you know rabbits are a little curious. So we’re gonna have like little curious bits here and there throughout the year,” said Mimi Luong of Truong An Gifts.

The Far East Center has been hosting Lunar New Year’s festivities for a decade.  Many who gathered to celebrate were buying last minute decorations and red envelopes at the gift shops, or getting food from the restaurants.

China Jade Seafood Restaurant, one of the eateries in the Far East Center, said pho and dim sum were flying off the tables.   Many were dressed in their traditional clothing for the celebrations, and were taking photos and enjoying family time. Those who were born in the Year of the Rabbit received a gift from Truong An Gifts. So did children who said happy new year or Kung Hei Fat Choy.  

Luong said “I feel that Lunar New Year celebrated at the Far East Center has been a cultural event passed down from my parents, and that we are able to share our culture with the community and let them know our traditions on how we celebrate with line dances, cultural performances, the different types of foods that restaurants are serving. Just to share with everyone our culture.”

During the celebrations Lion dancers performed.  The lion dancers are used during new year celebrations to bring good luck and help drive away evil spirts with the help of fireworks.  Children and family’s alike fed them red envelopes with money to bring good luck.

  

“I love to see how diverse our community is, just come to learn our holiday our tradition. And if you can look around in the shop you can see how diverse this community is. And it’s great that everyone wants to learn what Lunar New Year is about and how we celebrate.” 

With Lunar New Year celebrations being held all over Denver it is hard to ignore the tragic events that happened in Los Angeles when a gunman killed 11 people and injured 9 others at a dance hall in Monterey Park.  In a statement posted on its social media site, Far East Center said, “In light of what happened in Southern California we send our prayers to everyone there and we hope to continue to be a light to our community by sharing happiness and joy this Lunar New Year. Today we celebrated with our friends, family, and customers.  Thank you to everyone that came out to celebrate with us today.”

If you missed the celebration, Far east Center has another one with lion dancers, cultural performances, and vendors on January 28th and 29th.    

The corner of Alameda and Federal was

By Ryan Schmidt & Alexander Servantez/CU News Corps

The White City

Located just outside the limits of Denver lies the town of Lakeside. Home to just 17 people, all are facing Sheridan Blvd. just off Interstate 70. It’s a small community in such a fast-growing city. 

Most Denver residents pass through the narrow city lines of Lakeside daily without ever knowing. But the tall yellow Tower of Jewels and the white, wooden Cyclone ride that represents the Lakeside Amusement Park are recognizable to all.

Close to the town and park are Byron and Brenda Hamilton. They are lifelong Lakesiders. They haven’t just been to the park numerous times. They grew up around the park. They’ve maintained a relationship with General Manager Rhoda Krasner, daughter of Benjamin Krasner, who purchased the park in 1935.

“We see them about three to four times a year,” said Byron Hamilton. “But every time, it’s like we’re a part of the family. They trust us, and we wouldn’t do anything to break that trust.”

They speak about the times of their childhood at the park. Brenda’s grandmother was the official bookkeeper during the 1970s. Her grandfather was the Edgewater Police Chief around the same time. He went on to run security at the park before retiring.

Byron and his “delinquent parents” may not have had the association with the park that his wife did. But that didn’t stop them from sneaking through that loose hole in the wire fence across from the lake. They would hop onto the famous Lakeside train and ride to the park for a fun-filled day.

“Everybody at the park just felt like family. Rhoda was like everybody’s grandmother,” Byron Hamilton said. “Her mom, we called her Mrs. Kay. She was always riding around on a three-wheel golf cart. Stopping and hugging everyone. That’s the one thing we’d say made up the core of the park. Family.”

With such rich and touching stories, it’s not hard to understand how Lakeside grew to popularity. But what isn’t often mentioned is the park’s pure beauty and aura.

The park, first unveiled in 1908 to a crowd of over 50,000 people, was formerly known as the “White City.” When the sun went down and the night crept in, the park’s 100,000 lights would awaken to fulfill its early moniker. The Tower of Jewels and all of its bright, yellow and gold eminence could be seen from a mile away.

Premier attractions blended with incredible craftsmanship made Lakeside feel grand. The horses on the merry-go-round feature wood that is all handcrafted. The horses’ tails featured real taxidermy fur from horse specimens. Luxurious.

 

Every year, a carnival would come into town and set up shop in the park bringing a whole host of new, beautiful, and festive attractions for a short time. The carousel and the famed Lakeside train come from World’s Fair. And don’t forget the annual fireworks show that Byron and Brenda Hamilton each described as the “baddest show in the city.”

This level of focus and attention to detail doesn’t just attract Denver natives but amusement park enthusiasts worldwide. Taylor Finn, a Lakeside park visitor from Pennsylvania, raved about his childhood experience at Lakeside and the unique architectural style that set it apart from other parks.

“The park immediately transports you to a different era,” Finn said. “The fondest memories I have aren’t even of being on the rides, so much as just walking through the park, basking in the art-deco lights and seeing families have such a good time.”

The Ghost Town

The park closed for the winter season on Sept. 19. There are no crowds of joyous families to analyze when the threat of snow is at the wake. But with even just a couple of laps around the park’s perimeter, it’s hard to imagine those same spirited crowds packing the grounds even if the park was open.

The sidewalk facing Sheridan Blvd. and the park’s front entrance is hardly a sidewalk. Every footstep is met with the crunch of gravel and dirt. Occasionally, you might have to step over a crushed beer can—an empty bag of chips. Or trudge through vast piles of dead, unkempt leaves.

Make your way to the park’s fence. Enormous weeds and thick foliage inside the park’s boundaries stand taller than the fences’ barbed wire. Tree branches and roots are growing in between the steel material.

A tourist might approach the fence hoping for a good look at the park’s interior. Maybe a picture. The vegetation has grown so wildly and without attention that it’s almost impossible to see some rides and attractions.

The white, art-deco style that once glazed the park is now no more than just chipped and unpainted wood. The Casino Theater is reminiscent of an old, abandoned ballroom, and almost half of the rides are inoperable, including Lakeside’s most popular ride, The Cyclone.

If you had no clue what Lakeside was, you would think it was a ghost town.

So then, why is Lakeside falling into such a bottomless abyss? What’s causing another one of Denver’s most storied landmarks to a deathly fate? Byron and Brenda Hamilton say that it was a disaster, amongst other things, that launched the park into a state of disarray. 

“A lot of people don’t know this, but a few years ago, there was a massive hailstorm that completely destroyed the park,” Brenda Hamilton said. “Even the tower that you see when you walk in. It had thousands of light bulbs that glowed bright, and it destroyed them all. Too much damage for Rhoda and them to pay and replace.”

They also spoke of the car wreck in 1988 that killed a young girl. Insurance rates after that accident were driven so high that Lakeside was forced to close down the incredible speedway.

An even more recent incident was referenced, involving a hand injury on the world-famous Cyclone ride. Lakeside visitor and Florida truck driver Daniel Depaola sued the park, hoping they would pay his medical bills after being struck by a wooden beam when he was holding his hands up on the ride.

“I’ve held my hands up on that ride a hundred times, and I’ve never gotten hit,” Byron Hamilton said. “I don’t know how he did it, but he forced that ride to close. That ride will probably never open, either, because it won’t pass a safety inspection without a lot of money going into it.”

However, it’s not all just a series of peril holding the park back from greatness. It’s almost as if the family-friendly identity is also hurting development.

“Rhoda hires cheap,” Brenda Hamilton said. “There was a time when they had a worker stealing from them on the job. Instead of firing him, Rhoda kept him on because they wouldn’t have anybody else to work if they let him go.”

“They also don’t like to get rid of things, either. I love them to death. But they are generational hoarders. There is so much history and beauty in that park that they refuse to get rid of, but something is holding them back from restoring it.”

According to the Hamiltons, a lack of trust keeps Rhoda and company from entrusting others with the restoration and identity of their park. Not once was Rhoda or any other figures of management able to be reached or contacted.

Byron himself foresaw this coming. “You can leave a message and tell them to call you,” he said. “I can tell you they probably will not.”

Losing Our Landmarks

This isn’t the first time the great city of Denver has seen a popular entity fall from grace. In April 2021, a legendary restaurant named Casa Bonita, located at 6715 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors to the public. 

Since the 1970s, the iconic eatery has given the Denver community festive decor and sopapillas filled with joy. It was one of the nation’s top 10 roadside attractions. It was a landmark. But it was also a place filled with love. A place that gave Denver families a night of belonging in a city that has changed so much since the restaurant’s inception.

Residents wondered how an establishment like Casa Bonita could be gone for good. How could it possibly come to this? What is left in the city of Denver to replace it?

It took two men, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, to save the restaurant from the verge of obscurity. The co-creators of the hit animated television show South Park were avid Colorado enthusiasts not ready to see the “pretty house” die. They purchased the restaurant and are planning to restore its staff and attractions back to all of its glory. The reopening is set for May.

For Lakeside, there is no Trey Parker, no Matt Stone, waiting to save the park from imminent collapse. Instead, Byron and Brenda Hamilton hope the Trey Parker and Matt Stone for Lakeside are the community.

“I always ask myself one thing,” Byron Hamilton said. “If there was an opportunity for the community to volunteer and help restore the park, would Rhoda do it?”

A New Beginning?

There are plans in the near future for the town of Lakeside to turn its sights toward bringing the park back up to speed. The idea is a beautification project headed by Lakeside resident and city council member Henry Schueller.

“I want to bring back some of the beauty within the park,” Schueller said. “ It starts with a presentable image. Big open sidewalks that are safe and wheelchair accessible to open the city up for everybody.”

“Another thing that I am proposing is bike lanes. I think it would be great to see bike lanes going down 44th. Down 48th, possibly connecting Berkeley Park to the Green Belt. Community parks, gardens, solar. It starts with doing our part here in the city.” 

But even Schueller knows that a spring cleaning is only the first measure. As the owner of AVLancer, an audio and visual technology company in the town of Lakeside, he believes there have to be some risks taken along the way.

“We built this company by taking risks,” he said. “We put our savings on this company multiple times, so we know all about taking risks. I hope to see a few risks taken, and I hope I can jump in and contribute, as well.”

He’s also taking notes from recent and widespread development in the Highlands area of Denver. A wave of gentrification is knocking at the doorstep of Lakeside along Sheridan and I-70.

“With the growth we’re seeing in this area, I really think the risks that this community and the park need to take are low on downsides and have massive upside potential. It’s really just about connecting that growth to our town.”

And so the final question is this: Where does Lakeside go? What does Lakeside do to keep this park from closure?

Byron Hamilton doesn’t think the land will ever be sold. He believes if the park were ever to shut down, the ground would sit as it does now. Empty, with untapped potential and a firm grip on the glory days of the past.

According to other town sources, there are some talks of selling. Some think Lakeside could become a more mainstream tourist area, similar to the Belmar shopping center. Others believe that restoration efforts are in place, and with the interest and help of the Denver Film Festival, the park could be turned into a historical walk. A place filled with Lakeside history. 

But the consensus remains. Lakeside natives and enthusiasts alike don’t want to see the park die. They won’t let the park die. And they need help from the people of Denver to keep the park alive.

“It could be a GoFundMe. It could be anything,” Schueller reaffirmed. “Even if it’s just to show Rhoda and the people at the park how much the community cares and wants to see it succeed. It could go a long way.”

“It’s sad what’s going on over there. I’m sure I and everyone else want to see it doing better. I think some things must be done before it’s too late.”

By Ryan Schmidt & Alexander Servantez/CU News

Christopher Cruz, a dog trainer from Puerto Rico, hurls a frisbee through the air. With incredible speed his Dutch Shepherd, Poison Ivy, zooms in pursuit. She moves so quickly that her lean body becomes a blur. Ivy leaps! Over 6 feet off the ground and snatches the frisbee out of midair and the crowd surges with excitement. This is Xtreme Dogs.

“I found my passion through training my dogs.  My favorite part of this is that we get to show people our bond, the relationship, and the communication that we have created with our dogs,” said Christopher Cruz, a dog trainer with Xtreme Dogs. “You get what you give. Anybody can create that relationship with their dog as long as they are willing to put in the time. Ain’t that right Ivy?” 

This past Tuesday the National Western Stock Show invited Xtreme Dogs to showcase the amazing athletic feats of these animals and also the special relationship between trainer and canine. The Xtreme Dogs performance is a hallmark family activity in the National Western Stock Show. Mom, dad, and the kids can be sure to witness some of the most impressive and unlikely behavior ever witnessed from a dog. Rest assured; these dogs are not just the average stay at home pets. These dogs are champions, athletes, performers, Hollywood TV stars, and heroic service animals. 

Deirani Collazo is the lead trainer of Xtreme Dogs which is a traveling dog show production group bringing together trainers and their dogs from all over the world to perform and compete. 

“Our main goal is to showcase the bond between handler and dog and show people how incredible this relationship can be,” said Collazo.

 

The dogs have a wide range of activities and athletic performances from disc, agility, tricks, racing, and even water sports. Collazo took the main stage towards the end of the show to perform a freestyle with her Border Collie, Rogue. The two danced in perfect synchronization. Rogue weaved in between her legs, leaped up onto her shoulders, and would catch discs while jumping up and over Collazo’s head.  

While the performance looks almost effortless, the process to train a dog to perform in such a manner is a long and committed journey. With thousands of people in the audience cheering and multi-colored spotlights bouncing around the arena, it would seem inevitable that a dog would get distracted. Yet through almost inaudible vocal cues and subtle body movements, Collazo and the rest of the trainers are able to instill perfect discipline in their animals. 

It’s basically getting to know your dog and finding out what your dog likes. It could be toys, food, affection, and then you know, using those things to teach the dog behaviors. The more you praise the dog for behavior that you want, the more likely it is to be repeated.”

It sounds simple, but this is a full-time job for these trainers. These dogs are their lives. 

“We want to show people that no matter what you know, either adopted or purchased, any dog can be amazing. If you put in the time and energy it requires with patience and love, you could have an amazing incredible partner for life,” said Collazo. 

Alex McNeil is an outdoorsman and dog trainer of fifteen years from Calgary. He is the owner of Bleve, a five-year-old female German Shepherd.  Bleve sits right on McNeil’s hip.  Her eyes never leaving him.  When she’s not in a dog show, she’s up in the Canadian Rockies doing search and rescue and has just recently began filming a role in the new HBO show, “The Last of Us.” 

“She has a full role with Pedro Pascal (Joel) and Bella Ramsey (Ella). I can’t tell you exactly what she’s doing, but it will be later on in the season of the show,” said McNeil. 

Through this bond the two have created, they are able to perform seemingly impossible search and rescue jobs to bring peace to victims’ families. Bleve and McNeil are equipped to spend days in the backcountry looking for lost hikers, climbers, skiers, and more. Using Bleve’s exquisite sense of smell, they can look for bodies buried in snow, underwater, and in all kinds of hard-to-reach places. 

“We do cadaver. The training is constant, we are always training. But they have such good noses that it is imprinted on them, she will remember that scent forever,” said McNeil.  “Her deepest find is 350 feet. We are on a boat doing grid searches and when she picks up molecules from the cadaver floating through the water column she will start barking.” 

Alex McNeil and Bleve

The most important aspect of the Xtreme Dogs show to the trainers is showing off the relationship they have established with their animals. They showcase what a dog is capable of but also why they are man’s best friend; they are willing to give anything to their owners if the owner is willing to give everything back.    

Poison Ivy had a collar with a tag that read, “Ready When You Are.” Which summarized her demeanor perfectly. She never left Cruz’s side and was ready to do anything he asked of her in a second’s notice. Not begrudgingly, but with love and excitement in her eyes. 

“I am super grateful and blessed for everything that dogs have taught me. To be more confident, to be more assertive, to be disciplined, to just be a leader, you know?” said Cruz.

Christopher Cruz, a dog trainer from Puerto

Damon McCleese is the Executive Director of Access Gallery on Santa Fe which helps those with disabilities explore the creative process. He is also the curator of an art exhibit called 70 Something which runs from January 20 through February 26 at Niza Knoll Gallery at 915 Santa Fe. The exhibit showcases the work of artists who are in their 70s, 80s, even 90s, including Niza Knoll, who is 80 years old. He answered our five questions.

What was the inspiration for your 70 something Exhibit and what do you want people to take away from it?

My mother passed away in 2015. She was 90 years old and had fallen and broken her hip. She lived the last six months of her life in a nursing home with her only creative outlet being a children’s coloring book. This really bothered me. I did what I always do, I threw myself into something I knew nothing about. I started teaching people with Alzheimer’s and dementia to do graffiti. I had no idea this reaction to my own grief would lead me to challenge my own assumptions about aging and creativity. I have since also turned 60 and realized that I am in a unique position to maybe do something where someone else’s mother in a nursing home may have a different experience than my mother did. Since then, I have learned a lot about how older brains process creativity. I find artists who are older still working are extraordinarily engaging.  I hope people will see these artists who have expressed a lifetime of ideas and craft into some remarkable work. I wanted to really focus on contemporary artists and am thrilled with this show.

You talk about combating ageism through art. How does ageism reveal itself in the art world?

Much like our entire society the art world is always looking towards the young, the up and comer, what is new and fresh. I am more drawn to experience and how artists who have navigated a longer time on this earth process the world. I first was aware of an artists ability to adapt to changing mental and physical aspects of themselves when I saw an exhibit of Matisse cut outs. He could no longer manage the brushes the way he used to. Or Miles Davis who took up painting after a stroke. There are countless examples of this. But I am also drawn to the idea that we are all creative and many people revisit their creativity later in life. Most of the artists in this show have been practicing art for decades and the work is stunning. I say let’s celebrate this not try to hide it. 

The elderly are often portrayed as washed up, over the hill, put out to pasture, but you believe they’re bursting with creativity. Can you explain that?

There was a famous study by NASA that showed 90% of six year old’s test as creative geniuses but by the time we are adults less than 10% of us test as creative geniuses. I say this is more to do with our education system confusing creativity with conformity. By the time we reach a certain age there are a good number of people who return to their creative interest, and as I learned in the Granny does graffiti project, most older people are open to trying new things and are very interested in communal creativity and are able to better use both sides of the brain when they create than their younger counterparts. Further older people who are engaged in creative outlets take fewer medications, are less likely to fall or experience depression or anxiety – both of which are not part of the normal aging process. We are all creative geniuses. Picasso said it best. “Every child in an artist, the problem is how to remain one as we grow up.” I believe the surest way is to provide as many creative outlets to older adults as we do to children. By the year 2030 there will be more 60 year old’s than six year old’s in this country.

What do you recommend for someone older who is interested in getting into art? 

Just do it. Do something everyday – draw, doodle, take a picture, write a haiku – you do not need anyting fancy just start with what you have handy. I tell people to do something creative every single day – take a photo and write a story about it, draw the same thing every day. I once drew Delicate Arch everyday for a month. I still cannot draw worth a crap but the exercise is about rediscovering your creativity and how you put things together. Remember there is a difference between creativity with artistry. Give yourself permission to play, to explore. Where else in your life are you encouraged to make mistakes?  

What do you say to people who think they are too old to try something new?

Grandma Moses was 77 when she started painting.

The average age of the Rolling Stones is 74 yet their biggest grossing tour was 2019.

Artist Carmen Hererra was 93 when she got her first major show.

John Glenn went to space when he was 77.

Wang Deshun is an 80 year old Chinese male runway model.

Patti Smith is 76 and just published a book of photographs.

Damon McCleese is the Executive Director of

Space captures our imagination because there’s so much to explore and so many possibilities.  As we look towards the future, space resources and asteroid mining could become a lucrative field here on Earth. George Sowers, a professor in the space resources graduate program at the Colorado School of Mines, remembers the moment he was intrigued by what lies beyond our planet.

“I remember [the Apollo Launch], I was at summer camp and during the first moon landing, we all gathered in the dining hall looking at a black and white TV. But I was a kid, and it didn’t make a huge impression on me,” he said. “Once I got into the space business, as a fresh out of college physicist, I loved it.”

George moved to Colorado from his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, and worked for decades in aerospace.

“I did thirty years in big aerospace,” Sowers said. “I started out with Martin Marietta, which kind of tells you how far back that goes. Eventually, I became part of the United Launch Alliance, which was a spin-off of Lockheed and Boeing.”

At ULA, Sowers helped build rockets and began looking into asteroid mining. He said ULA made some contracts with newly formed asteroid mining companies around 2010. Those companies’ business models centered around pursuing metallic mass asteroids for precious metals.  

“They were going to mine platinum group metals, bring them back to Earth, and sell them on the commodity markets,” he said.

Asteroids can contain iron, nickel, aluminum, titanium, platinum, and gold. Some companies pursue asteroids rich in these metals to sell those resources for the highest price. But water was the priority for Sowers as water is used for rocket propellent.

“I got involved with those companies because at United Launch Alliance, building rockets, we had gotten interested in refueling our rockets in space,” Sowers said. “I was talking to them about sources of propellant. In 2016, I think I became the first person ever to offer to buy space resources. As the Chief Scientist of ULA, I offered to buy propellant in space for a certain price.”

After retiring in 2017, he was approached by Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid who was starting up the space resources graduate program at the Colorado School of Mines. Sowers jumped at the opportunity and has been teaching at Mines since.

“I love it, it’s great,” Sowers said. “It’s a lot less stressful than being a corporate executive, and it gives me a chance to pass on some of my knowledge!”

Asteroid mining is very complex and has not been fully developed. Although, the theory is you have a spacecraft that launches and goes to rendezvous with an asteroid. One recent example of this was a NASA mission called OSIRIS-REx. According to NASA:

“OSIRIS-REx traveled to near-Earth asteroid Bennu and is bringing a small sample back to Earth for study. The mission launched Sept. 8, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft reached Bennu in 2018 and will return a sample to Earth in 2023.”

Sowers said that they visited a c-type asteroid, so this one would be targeted for water production. What they learned is that the asteroid is a loosely consolidated rubble pile. The challenge is how to interact with these asteroids in a way that enables extraction.  Sowers explained that essentially NASA used a cup-shaped device that impacted the surface of the asteroid and pulled out a sample of the material. Then, the device detracted into a door that sealed the material into the spacecraft.

“Nobody’s mining them,” he said. “Everything is still in the planning stages, early stages. There are scientific missions that have gone to asteroids. The Japanese have done a couple, the US has done a few,” says Sowers.  “One of the things that makes it challenging is that these objects are really too small to have gravity, everything’s happening in zero G,” he said. “So, if you push on it, you’re going to go backwards.”

As companies have studied how to conduct asteroid mining missions, the most viable option seems to be extracting water from asteroids to use for rocket propellant. The water gathered from asteroids can refuel rockets in space and can help support ongoing space activities and even lead to manufacturing in space.

“If you can make things in space you can start to open up possibilities that are not currently feasible,” Sowers said. “One of those that I really like to think about is space solar power.”

Sowers said that on Earth, we are pushing to rely on renewable energy sources like solar power. Although it faces limitations because you cannot capture solar energy at night, clouds prevent solar capture during bad weather, and solar panels do not work at all if they are covered in snow.

“There’s huge limitations, but if you can put your solar collection hardware in space, then you avoid all those problems,” he said. “The idea is that you build big solar collectors in space, and then you convert that energy into microwaves that are very diffuse and you can beam that energy back to Earth to receive it. So, suddenly, you have an inexhaustible supply of energy that has no carbon emissions whatsoever.”

In Sowers’s aerospace career, he has spent countless hours working on space projects, with applications that could help solve problems here on Earth. Now semi-retired, he relishes the opportunity to work with college students at Mines and provide an optimistic outlook on a future. 

“I really enjoy interacting with students, that’s the fun thing for me is to try and get the new generation excited about space and the amazing future that it holds,” he said. “One thing that is kind of disconcerting for me is [the younger generation] has been indoctrinated to be pessimistic about our future, and I find that to be very disturbing because I think the future is awesome!”

He said that we are truly on the cusp of breaking the bounds with our attachment to Earth and feels asteroid mining and space resources can create an out-of-this-world future for humans.

“Asteroid mining is going to be one activity that’s part of a really cool future for humans in space.”

Space captures our imagination because there’s so