Happy Goo Year

The forecast is fun for the Farrar Fest Picnic.

"I predict that a large city in Colorado will be the victim of a strange and terrible pressure from outer space, which will cause all solids to turn into a jelly-like mass. I predict that this pressure will not affect any other part of the world but will be pinpointed at one particular city. I predict that without warning buildings will collapse to the ground in near silence trapping thousands in the rubble. The entire population will live in terror and fear. I predict that a state emergency will be declared and federal aid will be granted but as rescue units approach the city they will lose all semblance of solidity and will be rendered helpless. The people who attempt to escape in wild panic will be unable to move through the gummy streets. The citizenry of this Colorado city will find themselves enveloped in a jelly-like substance. They will be unable to escape for it will be impossible to cut through or tear this substance. Although soft and pliable it will still retain the strength and weight formerly possessed. I predict in the outskirts the conditions will not be as serious but fleeing people will find themselves mired in roadways and hardly able to move.

"I predict that scientists from all over the world will be called upon to help but no one will be able to offer relief for they will not be able to conquer this terrible force, this mysterious force from outer space. Gradually, as conditions ease, survivors will be evacuated but this will become a dead city and will never again be reborn. I predict this unfortunate community will be a victim of elements beyond our control and will always be remembered until the end of time. I predict the name of the city will be Denver, Colorado. The date: June 9, 1989."

By the time Denver escaped the dire fate that '60s pop psychic Criswell had predicted for this city in his book Criswell Predicts From Now to the Year 2000, the Farrar family had been holding its distinctly non-gooey, Post-Hogmanay Farrar Fest Picnic at City Park for a couple of years. "We started seventeen years ago because New Year's Day was dead," explains Pamela Farrar.

Sam Turner

Livening up this town is a Farrar tradition. More recently, it has involved maintaining the denverviews.com Web site, on which Jack Farrar posts essays, profiles of local activists ("Who's Left in Denver?") and lists such as "The Most Serious Things Facing Denver," which include "dry, itchy skin," "no affordable housing at the Polo Club," "inadequate media coverage of the Broncos" and "embarrassing misconception by outsiders that Denverites drink Zima."

There are always lists at the New Year's Day potluck picnic, too, where people share not just food and drink, but resolutions.

Among Jack's favorites over the years: "I resolve to find out who killed Laura Palmer"; "I resolve to finish a novel and keep my toenails trimmed"; "I resolve to not get arrested again"; "I resolve to beat cancer to a pulp"; and "I resolve to stop dumping bodies in the lake, or at least in the same spot." That last resolution refers to the odd aftermath of a picnic about a decade ago, when a body was found in Ferril Lake the next day. It was not one of the picnickers, the Farrars insist.

Not that they keep particularly close track of the guest list. The picnic, whose 2004 incarnation commences at noon, January 1, in the remodeled City Park band shell, is open to all. "We've had street people come in and enjoy the picnic, just sit around and talk," Pamela says.

"All are welcome -- even Republicans," Jack adds. "The event has never been canceled due to weather. We provide a large sheet of paper for resolutions and/or political manifestos, and we bring past resolutions for reviews and guilt trips."

Even without gummy streets, it's been one long, strange trip for Denver. But events like the Post-Hogmanay Farrar Fest Picnic make the journey worthwhile.

 
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