Or cut a rug, which the neighborhood did when it created the annual Fiesta! Fiesta! celebration. That event, which brought people back to Larimer Street every September, was Ed's second-best moment.
The third was when the ballpark opened. But baseball also presented Larimer Street's unofficial mayor with his greatest challenge. For a time his parents had lived at 21st and Clay, near Mile High Stadium, and he knew that the neighborhood was more likely to wind up a sea of parking lots than an oasis of old-time charm. That's what 90 percent of the businesspeople around him assumed would happen, he says, and it took years and lots of sleepless nights to convince them otherwise. And it wasn't just his neighbors that he had to convince--there was also the city to contend with.
But with the help of freelance urban planner Karle Seydel, Ed fought, and fought hard. "We didn't want to see all this come down and become parking lots," he says. "That was our game plan." Slowly, the Ballpark Neighborhood group grew from seven people to 68 businesses. And today the storefronts of Larimer not only still stand, they stand taller, the beneficiaries of much-needed facelifts. Up at 21st Street, the Key Club and blue room are drawing another generation to Larimer; a deal's in the works for Hub Loans, across the street from Johnnie's; the corner at 20th occupied by the falling-down Elbow Room is set to be built back up. "It has taken us seven, eight years to get this off the ground," Ed says. "I believe we're at the peak."
He can see his vision taking shape. He can see the multicultural shopping area he always imagined, the string of small, family-owned businesses--places not unlike Johnnie's Market, where Ed and Helen and their two girls worked so hard. He can see the families coming down to eat and shop in a neighborhood as safe as any other in town. He can see this, even if the vision in his mind does not yet match the reality out the door.
"I'm real optimistic about everything going on," he says. "I see nothing but good for this area. I just hope God gives me enough time to see it through."
And Ed will be watching. Even though Johnnie's Market is closed--cerrado--he'll still be around. He wants to make sure the city builds something on that vacant lot across from Coors Field, rather than let it become a parking lot. "I'll fight that," he vows. After all, he'll be watching, hanging out on his street, keeping an eye on things. "I've got a lot of friends here," he says. "I know everybody--I even know the drunks and winos. I've been here so long, they respect me.
"I've made a good living off this street. This street has been good to me.