Montbello and Green Valley Ranch: Never been there? The far northeastern Denver districts out by the airport do seem to be worlds unto themselves, cut off from the rest of us by parcels of Aurora and Adams County, and that’s why Denver’s civic health club, Warm Cookies of the Revolution, is holding the latest installment of its monthly Stompin’ Ground Games neighborhoods celebration out there on Saturday, January 9. Get ready for the games with our list of five reasons to take a good look at the area:
African Grill and Bar
18601 Green Valley Ranch Blvd #101
Osei and Adwoa Ford-Wuo opened this second outpost of their Best of Denver-winning Aurora temple to West African cuisine a few years ago, and it’s fast become a place to meet and eat, even if you don’t always know what it is that you’re eating. They’ll tell you all about those ingredients — plantain, cassava and goat, which really aren’t all that mysterious — and show you how to properly eat the exotic soups and stews, as well as some great fried chicken. African Grill also hosts African dance nights and happy hours with African music. You can get a real taste of the place when the restaurant hosts this month’s edition of the Stompin’ Games.
4848 Chambers Road
Remember that movie Barbershop? Minus the cinematic drama, Montbello Barbers could be a local outpost of the shop in that film, which served not only as a place to get a haircut, but also as a community seat, where men could gather and talk openly about life and cultural issues. Montbello also doubles as a meeting place for Shop Talk Live, a local initiative led by poet Theo Wilson, which brings together community members to discuss issues affecting their neighborhood. Come to think of it, it’s a mini-version of what goes on all the time at Warm Cookies of the Revolution, so it makes perfect sense for the two organizations to team up for the games in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch, where you’ll meet both Wilson and barbershop owner Greg Allen. Learn more about Shop Talk Live online.
Mel Silverman Park
12875 East Andrews Drive
Silverman Park became more family-friendly with a makeover a couple of years ago that added both a bright new playground and an adjacent Fitness Zone offering a free quick workout. In a community where families abound, parents can now burn some calories while their kids play a few yards away. Win, win.
Montbello Drum Line
Montbello High School’s booming Montbello Drum Line has made tracks across the nation and as far afield as Tokyo since its inception in 2003 under the direction of star percussionist Brian Jordan. In 2012, the crew wowed downtown crowds on Make Music Denver Day, with a performance art-based march. The line takes the marching-band ethic one big step further and is a major source of pride in the community. Drum on!
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Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
6550 Gateway Road, Commerce City
Bordering Montbello to the north, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was reborn as a wildlife refuge after a massive cleanup of poisoned land formerly occupied by a U.S. Army chemical weapons plant and, later, a Shell Oil agricultural chemical plant. Ironically, the many species now protected by the refuge, including bison, black-footed ferrets, deer, coyotes, bald eagles and burrowing owls, have always been there, since the days when Plains Indians followed the herds across its barren prairie stretches. Stop by the visitors' center, accessible from Commerce City, and learn more about public programs, hikes and wildlife tours at the refuge.
The Stompin' Grounds Games: Montbello and Green Valley Ranch will meet from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, January 9, at the African Grill and Bar, where local slam poets will share their work and community members will discuss issues facing the neighborhood. Admission is a $5 donation (or bring memorabilia from the ’hood to be scanned by Historic Denver for free admission), and free tastes, childcare and Spanish/English interpretation will all be part of the deal. Visit Warm Cookies of the Revolution online for more information.