Problems minimal at ‘massive’ T-Days rritory Days
3-day crowd estimated at more than 150,000
If Territory Days seemed big over Memorial Day weekend May 29-31, that's because it was.
It may even have been the biggest in the 35-year history of the annual festival put on by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, based on a police estimate of more than 150,000 people in all during the three sunny days.
In addition, OCCA event organizer Jim Wear of Pro-Promotions reported the heaviest-ever use of the free shuttle buses (with parked cars filling up both the Coronado High and Rock Ledge Ranch lots at times), a record number of beer kegs getting emptied at the two OCCA liquor venues (125, compared with the previous high of 83) and generally happy vendors and retailers.
Situated along closed-off Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets, the event featured live bands, attractions with a mostly Old West flavor and about 200 vendors lining the avenue.
“I know it was wall-to-wall people,” said Wear, an experienced event area planner who was handling Territory Days for the first time. “I can't imagine putting more people into a four-block area.”
Police Sgt. Lonnie Spanswick, the city's special events coordinator, used the word “massive” in his description. “In all my years, I've never seen crowds like that. There were at least 50,000 people a day, coming and going, and that's a conservative guess.”
Crowd estimates are unofficial (although Spansick noted that police do have a camera to watch the crowds); the highest estimate previously for Territory Days was about 140,000.
But the best news, according to police and OCCA, was that the event went off safely, without major problems. “So far, I have not received any serious complaints,” OCCA President Don Wick said June 2, two days after the event.
Wear said he'd heard of just a couple of places in adjacent neighborhoods where festival trash had been missed by contracted Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful crews, and those were then taken care of.
There were two event-related arrests, one for disorderly conduct and another for theft. The latter case involved a man who was charging cars to park on a lot he didn't own in the 200 block of 27th Street. Amid the milling throngs, the only other matters of note for police were a few missing children, but all were reunited with their families. “For the number of people, our issues were minimal,” Spanswick summarized.
An interesting statistic this year was the number of parking tickets issued in the surrounding neighborhoods. The total of 189 was about a third of the total from some previous years. Wear said he'd like to think that his vehicle-reduction steps helped out. For one thing, the shuttle in the past had only used the Coro-nado lot. This year, in case the high school lot filled up, he arranged with Rock Ledge to reserve its lot as a “Plan B.”
As things turned out, “Coronado already was full by 11 a.m. Saturday [an hour after the festival officially started], and then we filled half of the Rock Ledge area,” he related. “On Sunday, Coronado filled up by 10:30, and we filled the entire ranch lot.” In addition, a seventh bus was brought in during the event, “but we still couldn't keep up,” Wear said. At times, the return line at 27th Street was backed up several hundred feet from the shuttle stop.
Late parking relief was provided by the addition of a motorcycle-only lot in the 2200 block of Colorado Avenue. Despite zero promotion and the lot only becoming available halfway through Saturday, May 29, the 75-to-100-space area was filling up by Sunday and Monday. The thinking is that if people who own motorcycles know there's a safe lot to park them, they will use that mode of transportation rather than a vehicle, and the result will be fewer cars in the neighborhoods, Wear explained.
Other steps involved adding on-street handicapped parking spaces on West Cucharras Street and providing a “bicycle valet” in which festival attendees could come on bikes and park them in an enclosed, secured area. Brian Grim, whose Metro Rides program organized the free service with local cycling groups, said 100 to 120 cyclists used the opportunity over the three-day weekend. “That's not too bad, considering we didn't have much chance to promote it,” he said.
Both Wick and Wear said they had talked to different vendors and Old Town merchants, and both reported favorable feedback. One concern had been that the event's second liquor venue - set up in the 2600 block instead of the 2500 block this year - might hurt sales at the two main Old Colorado City bars, but both of them (Thunder & Buttons and Meadow Muffins) reportedly did quite well, Wear said.
Wick said that he had met with several shopkeepers, and “those who chose to be open were pleased.”
Territory Days is OCCA's major annual fundraiser, with proceeds used for marketing the area and paying for smaller annual promotions/events that aren't as financially rewarding as Territory Days. Not all the festival dollar numbers are in yet, but if, as suspected, profits were high, “then it was a big, fat winner, because the money can be used to promote Old Colorado City,” Wear said.
Westside Pioneer article