Elitch's lights up the night...every night

The mayor's race between Chris Romer and Michael Hancock has been creating plenty of fireworks lately, but even after this endless campaign finally winds up next Tuesday, the skies over downtown will remain lit up with nightly fireworks shows at Elitch Gardens.

When the amusement park first moved from northwest Denver to its current home in the Platte Valley, the original plan called for fireworks displays every night — but then neighbors complained that the noise disturbed their pets and made them feel like they were living in a war zone. And while today the area on the bluff overlooking Highland is one of the hottest properties in town, with the only fights focused on parking spots, back then it sometimes was a war zone. Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero was an aide to Debbie Ortega when she represented District 9 (Ortega will soon be back on council as an at-large representative), and she remembers the complaints coming in.

But now the fireworks are back — and Montero's family, especially her eleven-year-old daughter, are enjoying the view from their loft in the Platte Valley. The ballistics aren't as noisy, Montero points out, and the current shows are definitely smaller than the Fourth of July extravaganzas that light up the night.

The park has added five new shows this year, explains Elitch spokeswoman Debbie Evans, and the fireworks display is the conclusion of one of those, "Ignight," a celebration of fire and color that ends with fireworks every night at dusk. "It's a nice end to the day," she notes. In fact, Elitch's is all about nice this year; the new managers of the park, Herschend Family Entertainment, are working with current owner CNL Lifestyle Properties to focus on "institutional excellence and improving things that affect every guest," Evans says, and that includes upgrading the food, adding shows that are included with the cost of the ticket — and giving the city a nightly fireworks display.

And so far, Montero's office hasn't heard a word of complaint.

Mannie overboard! Last week hundreds of residents of Denver were on the receiving end of a robo-call that started with this: "Chris Romer was being endorsed by former mayor Federico Pena. His opponent was being endorsed by Tom Tancredo. We all know that Tancredo has repeatedly attacked our community..." In her "Typhoid Tom" column last week, Patricia Calhoun told the real story of that alleged endorsement, which never existed. But the voice on that call is real: It belongs to Mannie Rodriguez, who founded Independence House, a Denver halfway house, in 1976; is a member of the Democratic National Committee and was a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention; and has definitely endorsed Romer's mayoral bid.

But while Rodriguez admits that he made the call, he insists that the effort was entirely independent of the campaign, inspired by his dislike of Michael Hancock's position on Secure Communities. "It's such a bad concept," he says. "We're profiled constantly. I did it as a concerned person. It's personal, not negative."

Scene and herd: Why does Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn hate Colorado? And more specifically, why does he hate our booze, bikes and Jell-O? For the third time, Coburn — who once tried to stop cockfighting from being outlawed in his state — has blasted a Colorado-based company in his periodic reports on "waste" in government spending.

In late 2008, Coburn blasted the Fort Collins Bike Library, the recipient of a federal clean-air grant, as a waste of money. The bike library allows anyone with a credit card to check out a bike, something that promotes cleaner air and better health.

In August 2010, he pointed out that Colorado liquor distilleries, breweries and wineries, including Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey and Fort Collins Brewing, were getting $5 million in stimulus-backed loans. (Psst, Dr. Coburn, they were loans.)

And last week, he called out the National Science Foundation, which pays Centennial-based Raytheon Polar Services to maintain the government's science stations in Antarctica. One of his complaints: Some Raytheon employees held a Jell-O wrestling contest in their spare time. The organizer of that contest was fired, but it doesn't change the fact that a vote for Coburn is a vote against Jell-O — and that's mmm-mmm bad.

 
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