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Denver Cruiser Ride Creates a Happy City Happening on the Dairy Block

Denver Cruiser Ride reaches the Dairy Block alley.
Denver Cruiser Ride reaches the Dairy Block alley. Westword
The Denver Cruiser Ride was cruising for a bruising on the first event of the season, when hundreds of riders left the Ginn Mill at 2041 Larimer Street on the evening of May 30 and headed into LoDo, where the planned route took them through the alley running from 18th to 19th streets between Wazee and Blake streets.

This isn't just any alley, though. Officially vacated by the city, it is now a private pedestrian stretch through the heart of the Dairy Block, the hot project developed by McWhinney, Sage Hospitality and Grand American, which includes the Maven hotel, Milk Market (a Frank Bonanno food hall that opens June 1), offices, shops and plenty of outdoor seating where drinkers and diners can watch the action in this "activated" alleyway that opened last month.

On May 30, many of these spectators had just come from a private bash at Happiness HQ, an exhibition and creative space tied to Happy City Denver at 1855 Blake. But as bikes and skateboards started rolling through the alley, Dairy Block security guards were definitely not happy, and told riders that bicycles were forbidden in the space.

The cruisers kept coming. And coming.

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A Dairy Block employee prepares to confront the cruisers.
And they didn't stop. After all, Denver alleys are generally open to bicycles. And while the Dairy Block bills this particular alley as "Denver's first pedestrian alleyway," the signs outlining rules for the space are not yet posted. After the Denver Cruiser Ride, though, they will be, and soon, at both entrances to the alley and on the Dairy Block website.

In the meantime, here is the Dairy Block's Official Code of Conduct:
Dairy Block is committed to providing an enjoyable customer experience for all our guests and tenants. While visiting Dairy Block, the following general activities will not be accepted:

• Violations of the law
• Any activity that threatens the safety of our guests, tenants and/or employees
• Any activity that threatens the well-being of the property
• Any activity that disrupts our pleasant, family-oriented environment
• Any activity inconsistent with the general purpose of the property, which is shopping, dining, or offices for business purposes
• Any activity that would disrupt the legitimate business of the property and its tenants

Examples of specific activities that are prohibited include but are not limited to:

• Disruptive profanity, vulgar or threatening language
• Unnecessarily blocking walkways, roadways or storefronts
• Running. Horseplay or disorderly conduct of any nature
• Excessive loitering
• Operating unauthorized recreational and/or personal transportation devices at the center
• No firearms or illegal weapons

Dairy Block is a privately-owned property. Guests who do not act responsibly may be asked to leave. If they refuse to leave the property, they may be arrested and prosecuted for criminal trespass.
Since the rules had not yet been posted and the surprised Dairy Block security guards were overwhelmed by the volume of riders, none of the participants on the Denver Cruiser Ride were cited. Instead, they continued on their loop through LoDo, then headed along 14th Street to Stout for a ride up to the RiNo Beer Garden, leaving behind plenty of happy Dairy Block drinkers who'd enjoyed the unexpected entertainment.

Dairy Block developers paid an initial $1,000 in processing fees, as well as a $300 legal description review fee and $300 ordinance fee to vacate the alley, according to Nancy Kuhn, spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Public Works.

To avoid any confusion in the future, notes Dairy Block spokeswoman Julie Dunn, people will be asked to dismount and walk their bicycles through the alley, which sports much fancier paving than the asphalt in most city alleys.

And will the Denver Cruiser Ride be back? The theme of this inaugural 2018 ride was "Shades of Grey," and plans for the rest of the summer are still in the gray area. There will be three to four Denver Cruiser events this summer, according to founder Brad Evans, and assorted clubs/groups will host rides the other thirteen weeks. As for this first run, "It's a tradition to test the boundaries," Evans notes.

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Happiness HQ features a dive-in pool full of plush toys.
Dairy Block
The Dairy Block has less free-form future traditions in the works, too. The Happiness HQ will officially open to the public at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 1, and will then be open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. through June 20. In addition to spots where people can make art, the space sports a series of original Stuart Semple paintings, an inflatable dance floor and the plush-toy dive-in pool.

More Happy City activities will spill throughout the Dairy Block. In early June, it will unveil the Positive Vibes Only Quilt created by Denver artist Frankie Toan; the quilt comprises hundreds of neon Post-it Notes that adorned the interior hallways of the Dairy Block last winter, while the Huckleberry Roasters and Perfect Petal spaces were still under construction.

The Dairy Block is also hosting the 7000 Reasons art installation by Jonathan Saiz and Wes Magyar, artists who have committed to painting 7,000 custom oil portraits of people for just $143 each. The pair will be painting in the Dairy Block lobby every other day through June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

Too bad the artists weren't there on May 30. They could have captured a lot of Happy faces...and a few decidedly unhappy ones.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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