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Washington Park: Bubble Soccer Game Shutdown, Volleyball Player's Lawsuit

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Video below.
This past Sunday, Angela Hudson showed up at Washington Park with eight giant inflatable bubbles. Her plan, she says, was to host a casual game of bubble soccer, in which players play soccer whilst encased in plastic bubbles. (Video below!) Even though the Facebook invitation had been forwarded to 800 people, Hudson was expecting a small group; in fact, she says, just eight of her friends showed up.

But they didn't get to play. As Hudson was blowing up the last bubble, she was approached by two park rangers. According to her, one of them said, "We're shutting you down."

See also: What you can and can't do in Washington Park starting Memorial Day weekend

Hudson says the rangers told her she couldn't play there without a permit. When Hudson asked if she could get a permit, she says the rangers told her that drop-in permits were only available for volleyball, as per new rules for Wash Park put in place in May. When Hudson pointed out that she wasn't charging anyone to play, that it was just a pick-up game, she says one of the rangers admitted it was a "gray area," but that the other was more harsh. According to Hudson, he told her that if she ever came back, she'd get a ticket.

"I had to deflate all the bubbles," Hudson says. "So many people came up to me afterwards and said, 'That is so messed up. Why can't you play here?'"

The reason, says Denver Parks and Recreation spokesman Jeff Green, may lie in where exactly in the park Hudson and her friends wanted to play. Due to complaints about overuse and drunken behavior, Denver Parks and Rec issued a set of emergency rules to govern the use of Wash Park on the weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The rules include a drop-in permitting system for anyone wanting to play volleyball, a very popular sport in Wash Park. They also include increased parking enforcement and increased park ranger patrols. Soon after the rules were issued, however, volleyball players began to complain and Parks and Rec relaxed the permitting requirements, getting rid of the refundable deposit and specifying that players could set up anywhere in the park outside of a "passive area" reserved for families.

If Hudson and her friends were in that passive area -- the size of which Green says changes depending on the number of people in the park but is supposed to be clearly marked with signs -- that may have triggered the rangers to tell them to move on. Pick-up games of team sports like soccer with fewer than 25 players (games with more than 25 players require a permit) are only allowed outside of the passive area and only in places that another team or event hasn't already reserved with a permit, Green says. Such spaces can be hard to come by in Wash Park on summer weekends, he admits.

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Inside the bubble.
"Wash Park is a very, very busy park," he says. "A light, true pick-up game in the right space would certainly be allowable. But the rangers will come in and talk to folks if they see an issue and see if it's adhering to all of the rules."

Hudson and her friends ended up moving their game to a park in Glendale, where she says they weren't hassled by authorities. In fact, she says, a Glendale cop stopped to watch them play for a bit. But bubble soccer will be back in Denver soon. Hudson and her friends have secured a permit to start a league in early September in Sunken Gardens Park.

"Until then," she says, "we were just kind of having fun."

At least one attorney thinks the new rules for Wash Park are no fun at all. Damian Stone has sued Denver Parks and Rec for "illegally (passing) a law and regulations that makes it unlawful for families, children and other individuals to participate in impromptu casual drop-in sporting activities in Washington Park."

Continue for more on the lawsuit.



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58 comments
Rob Jennings
Rob Jennings

I guess kickball leagues weren't lame enough so they had to invent this crap.

Tony Zamora
Tony Zamora

Gosh darn downtown yuppies ......... I'll stick with my mountain suburban living

Tracy King
Tracy King

It's a PUBLIC PARK! ! As long as you are responsible & respectful. .. I say have fun in the park!

Jason DrSoul Lewis
Jason DrSoul Lewis

Can you still drink beer in the park? Seen a guy wheel a keg out there yrs ago. If this can still occur, then the rules are ok.

Magick Arnett
Magick Arnett

That stick must've been way up there. Butthurt Debbie downer

James Stewart
James Stewart

I think every Park Nazi (citizen and Parks & Rec employee) that bitches and detracts from other people's fun, should be sent to Afghanistan with the Military for some perspective.

Danette Lucero
Danette Lucero

Yea, but have u seen all these people walking there dogs.? Love dogs but what about us. We need exercise too.

Leo Snoneofyobizness
Leo Snoneofyobizness

It's the annoying yuppies that spend way too much money on a house in think they own the park same people that kept brown dog pizza from getting a liquor license on Gaylord Street. These douchebags want to be near a coffee shop and bars and restaurants and then they complain about people drinking and parking well then f****** spend another 50k and move 2 blocks away... morons

Travis Gann
Travis Gann

Fuck wash park. Im MORE inclined to disrespect and trash the place now. If they wanna be assholes about it i can be one too

Kye Tannehill
Kye Tannehill

They also have a radar that they use for bicyclists. If you go over 15mph while on the path made for your bike, you get a ticket.

Jody Kroonenberg Czillinger
Jody Kroonenberg Czillinger

It IS ridiculous and out of control. The park feels empty and dead now on weekends, when it used to be so alive. Bring back the old Wash Park!

Heather Moss
Heather Moss

Actually, soccer is a sport and the bubbles are made for adults.

Lynn Stiles
Lynn Stiles

So if you live in an apartment, say and you have a few kids, and you want to let them get some exercise, or let them play with something other than a video game, they have to pay $25 to do it in wash park??? Hmmmmmmm

cowtown
cowtown

Another notch on the belt for Michael Hancock, worst mayor in America!

Auden Ledahl
Auden Ledahl

Serene Nicole Contreras Communism has nothing to do with it.

Auden Ledahl
Auden Ledahl

If Wash Park is so uptight, it's time to take the game someplace you're allowed to play.

Ryan Terpstra
Ryan Terpstra

When I can, I avoid parks under the Denver Parks/Rec system. It's not worth the BS of dealing with them when there are plenty of other parks around the metro area where they welcome people instead of seeing what new & exciting way they can be hostile to visitors.

Ashley Duffy
Ashley Duffy

We all quit going there when they tried to write us a ticket for slacklining. They said... "if everyone decided to slackline it would hurt the trees" Seriously?

Abby Halder
Abby Halder

I live in Wash Park and go to Wash Park almost every day. Let people use the park! I just hope they don't start requiring a group of 2-4 people playing bocce ball to get permits. Stupid.

tristanechan
tristanechan

Wash Park as completely jumped the shark.

Melissa Bice
Melissa Bice

My grandfather was Director of Parks and Recreation for Denver for decades. He instituted many fun programs and the flower beds, Sister City Park Program, sports, games and Showboat. He would turn over in his grave at what's happening in Denver's parks. The parks are FOR the people to enjoy, not keep them away.

Jeff Lee
Jeff Lee

Six Pack Sports was the first ever bubble soccer league/games in Denver a couple years ago. Crazy to see this sport become more popularized.

Danielle Payne
Danielle Payne

So lame! Rules are ruining all the good fun at wash park :(

Alex Geller
Alex Geller

When is the next game? I wanna play!

Deanna Angelo
Deanna Angelo

Very classy Denver. Very impressive solution-Nothing better than a supposed public park with very private rules. What's next, licensing for people wanting to ride their bikes?

Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey

It's no longer fun to go to Wash Park. A good thing ruined.

Kaitlin Olson
Kaitlin Olson

Wash Park is nice but there's too many parks to choose from in the Denver area that don't have such strict regulations.

Kim Howard
Kim Howard

Yes the rules are completely out of control

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