Photos: Here's why Denver's 4/20 rally isn't a rally anymore

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Photo by Kyle Huninghake; click to see our complete 4/20 at Civic Center Park slide show.
"I remember when this was, like, a hundred white kids out here smoking weed under the trees here on 4/20 protesting the government. Now look at this. We're waiting in line for twenty minutes just to get patted down by security just to get in the park. This is awesome, man."

The guy behind me in the twenty-minute-plus line to get into Civic Center Park on Sunday summed up my thousands of (hazy) thoughts pretty well. As awesome as it was to see so many people in the park for 4/20, the days of it being an actual rally are gone.

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Photo by Kyle Huninghake; click to see our complete 4/20 at Civic Center Park slide show
On the way to the event, I walked from Westword's offices, at 10th and Broadway, and headed through the walkway in front of the Denver Art Museum, only to find out there was no entrance just south of the Greek amphitheater anymore. Instead, the entire event was fenced in and people were queued up in two lines, with about 75 people in each one stretching down 14th near the Denver City and County Building. A group of three bicycle cops rode through, keeping any line toking in check.

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Photo by Kyle Huninghake; click to see our complete 4/20 at Civic Center Park slide show
Inside, the park was packed almost shoulder-to-shoulder, not unlike a day out at a huge music festival. It was a far cry from just five years ago, when the event was a much smaller affair and people mostly just sat in groups and passed pipes in circles. Back then, you could enter the park from any direction, just like any other day. But this year, security staffers blocked off the entire area, as they do for the People's Fair, only with fewer entrances. The idea, I guess, was to enhance safety and crowd control. But my first thought was that if these barriers had been up last year when a shooting took place, a lot more people would have been trampled as they tried to get over the gates.

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Photo by Kyle Huninghake; click to see our complete 4/20 at Civic Center Park slide show
That's what happens when you get this big, though -- and most people in line were actually in favor of the pat-downs and fences. (Nobody got turned away for having weed on him.) And also like the People's Fair, 14th Street was lined with food stands and people vending tie-dye T-shirts, hammock chairs and other crap you only buy at street fairs.

Continue for more about why Denver's 4/20 rally isn't a rally anymore, including more photos.



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25 comments
whosdp
whosdp

This "festival" was more like the Mayor saying, "OK, you won...you can have your day...but we're going to make it as miserable for you as we can."  The Saturday lines to get in were short, but it was easy to see they'd be long for Sunday.  Being frisked as if I were flying to Israel was uncalled for.


The "bands" were mostly DJ outfits (shout out to Bass Physics, which wasn't bad), though the rapper was about as in touch with Denver life as Lawrence Welk would have been, at a slam fest.  "Canna-beggars," with cardboard signs made me feel right at home, though.


So, security was overkill, the music was mostly lame and refreshment options were negligible.  I have NO clue why, with the event on lock-down, minors were allowed in.  The real question is, why, if anyone could attend, was security so strict?


Whatever people want to call it, the 4/20 event needs a new venue.  Now, that its novelty has worn off, the City should move the event to one of several more suitable parks, and stop treating attendees like potential terrorists.

blogginblues
blogginblues

of course it couldn't be a political rally this year. the people naturally had to celebrate the first 420 in HISTORY when marijuana had been legalized. Sure the fight goes on. But this year we get to celebrate. This year we get to have a FESTIVAL, which it definitely was. If you know anything about how permits work in parks and recreation, a festival permit allows you a lot more vendors than a rally permit. Given all the vendors this year, this was definitely a FESTIVAL permit! And this was definitely a FESTIVAL, i.e. a giant party celebrating the first legal 420 in history! You can't forget that point. This was the FIRST!! I know your just a blogger and not a journalist, but if you had bothered to do the research, all of the alcohol was served indoors at the large city building located on the park grounds. I don't even think they could serve alcohol outside in the park. don't sound like such a whiner. Rally, Festival, its all just semantics. get over it. AND, if you've been to a large fenced-in event before you know that it is required by law that the fences have to easily collapse over in the event of stampede to purposefully avoid trampling.  If there had been a shooting this year, the fences would simply fall over to allow for a mass evacuation of people. again, research on these things are key. anyone can just write something.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

This was a surprisingly good take, minus some obvious axe grinding.

I got the immediate impression, when I showed up Saturday afternoon, that it had turned into something more along the lines of a convention or a concert. I completely agree that the event should continue, on a separate track from activism. Activism doesn't really seem to have any visibility there any more, but it's good to see pot in a mainstream context because it shows a level tolerance otherwise not seen in my lifetime.

The security presence (must have been at least three firms--visible), and the fence, in particular, were creepy. I was a bit concerned the cops would find a way to create a riot and have everyone pinned in as a supposed riot participant. Fortunately, there was no apparent interest in that this time (unlike most large un-permitted events and protests downtown.)

I'll keep going, even if it's just to piss of people who get uncomfortable when people enjoy different behaviors than they do, but I won't confuse it with activism, which was why I originally began attending.

Nick Runge
Nick Runge

If stoners were ticketed and/or arrested than clearly some were not playing by the rules. Sure this is new and all but holding rallys like this will start to undermine your own cause, so make a better image for yourselves, calm down you got what you wanted. There is no need to rub you victory in everyones face, afterall there are still a great number of people that do not like pot. If you want respect, then give it.

John Wolfe
John Wolfe

I asked law enforcement where I could smoke, and was told where to do it. They're telling us where to smoke and we are disrespecting them??? You sir, are on the wrong side of the issue AND uniformed.

Rico Garcia
Rico Garcia

There are no politics other than self promotion. If it's political and about helping people why doesn't the rich attorney and promoter who makes a bucket of cash every year actually use that profit for a political effort other than being really cool?

Phil 'Thrill' Milleville
Phil 'Thrill' Milleville

its not a rally and more its a celebration! theres no need to protest in co. take the rally to other states and protest there. its time to change the title to 420 celebration!

Monkey
Monkey

I agree 100%, "We're waiting in line for twenty minutes just to get patted down by security just to get in the park. This is awesome, man." is exactly the mentality that pisses me off. Like Breaths says, this is not what the rally is/was, it's what its become. 

In my opinion, this is a great example of suppressing the people, without them noticing. It's called corporate manipulation. The commercialization of weed is turning a once rebellious sub-culture into sheep willing to be caged when their owners direct them where to graze.


Michael Roque
Michael Roque

It was more of a celebration of legalization.

Michael Roque
Michael Roque

I don't understand how anyone disrespected law enforcement at the rally?

Michael Roque
Michael Roque

Alcohol consumption in public isn't accepted at all.

Jennifer Monteith
Jennifer Monteith

When it started, It was a rally to get marijuana legal, it work, time to move on....

Nikky Schulte
Nikky Schulte

Nick Runge yes this country demonize cigarette smoke, and trans fats in food, and calls people bad parents because they take their kids to McDonalds, and labels are as stupid and incompetent just because we choose to use an herb instead of a process chemical. It's because of the overabundance of narrow minded people like yourself that continue to make us feel like criminals regardless of what the government says that we still have to rally together to find like-minded individuals to remind ourselves that we are not this s*** that people like you make us feel like we are. We're not trying to get them to let us smoke every where. We are just wanting them to let us smoke it anywhere. We should not have to always constantly how did in our homes to smoke which then by the way labels us bad people if you parents. Back in the day when the government outlawed segregation that did not stop the problem with racism

Nikky Schulte
Nikky Schulte

John Pinnick you also have to admit, to fight our fight now, we need to being the bigger people we need to prove that we respect the non smokers choice is as well. Our fight does still need to be fought. But we have to acknowledge we are on to a new battle now we convinced our Colorado government to listen to us we won that battle. Now our fight is harder. We have to overcome the stereo types and prejudices that have been put into play for decades. It's easy to change a law its papers and pens, but change the minds of the masses that's a challenge.

mnieto420
mnieto420

Feel the same way, next year I will skip the rally all together.  The whole time I was there I kept thinking back when the rally was at Lincoln Park and how small it was compared to Sunday. 

James Joseph Potts IV
James Joseph Potts IV

The event was terrible. I was turned off on Saturday and didn't go anywhere near the park... And I only live three blocks away. On Sunday, a friend and I ventured and it was exactly what I'd anticipated: a poorly organized event with cookie cutter vendors selling the same products as every other event/festival that happens at Civic Center Park, except cannabis themed. This was not the most glorious way to ring in the first legal 4/20 in Colorado. Here's hoping next year the organizers aren't so lazy and they put in some effort to make the event something worthy of interest.

Gail Lucinda Madrid
Gail Lucinda Madrid

Sad but tru just like writer said whats really dangerous is ppl in a panic (in case of violence)crawlin over one another to get to safety but then again their tryn to get us not to go at all by makin it this way

Nikky Schulte
Nikky Schulte

I'm so glad someone said it. I wouldn't even go to the rally i was so disappointed by gates and cops. The cannabis cup was just as crazy but at least you got les cops. Next year, we need to just get a fair ground with a huge amount of space, do as much as we can In one area and go to more of an old school Woodstock style thing. We've out grow downtown denver.

nikky.paschall
nikky.paschall

I'm so glad someone said it. I wouldn't even go to the rally i was so disappointed by gates and cops. The cannabis cup was just as crazy but at least you got les cops. Next year, we need to just get a fair ground with a huge amount of space, do as much as we can In one area and go to more of an old school Woodstock style thing. We've out grow downtown denver.

dan.k.
dan.k.

@blogginblues  "the people naturally had to celebrate the first 420 in HISTORY when marijuana had been legalized" … "You can't forget that point."


How do you expect others to remember "that point" when you can't even get it right. The "first 420 in History when marijuana had been legalized" would have been in 2013, then -- as Amendment 64 passed in November of 2012. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  


                      *** Regulation Works! ***

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... Turkey Legs !!


Fuck yeah, America !!


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