The media coverage of the upcoming ten year anniversary of 9/11 has focused on the terrorist strikes and their aftermath. But what would the big stories in Denver have been if the attacks never happened?
Look below at the lost top ten from the day before the tragedy, and imagine September 11, 2001 if it had been just another day.
10. Aspen gets sexy. The Christian Science Monitor's Robert Struckman looked at a promotional campaign in Aspen meant to attract a younger generation of skiers to town. One ad featured a "sultry blond with mussed hair" leaning against a wall, hips forward, midriff bare, plus the slogan, "In Aspen, you might meet someone dynamic, exciting, attractive, athletic, witty, charismatic, and (in bigger letters) sexy."
9. T-Rex is born. The massive Transportation Expansion Project, nicknamed T-Rex, was gearing up the week of September 11, with workers collecting soil samples along the north side of Mississippi Avenue in anticipation of an October start to full-scale construction, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The $1.67 billion project made traffic along Interstate 25 even more challenging than usual for years. But in the end, T-Rex helped put the bite on some of the worst metro-Denver gridlock -- not that it's extinct.
8. A birthday celebration crashes. Rather than giving their thirteen-year-old son Adam a typical birthday party, his parents saved up their money and bought him a one-hour flight over the Front Range in a vintage biplane. Which would have been cool if the craft hadn't "clipped a guy wire and cartwheeled to a stop in a field east of Aurora," according to the Rocky Mountain News. "The gasoline was pouring down on me," Adam told the paper. "I heard the headset go dead and I thought I was dead." Instead, he walked away from the wreckage with nary a scrape. Many happy returns!
7. Drawing the lines. Governor Bill Owens called a special session of the Colorado legislature for September 20. And while he told lawmakers he wanted them to "pass a proposal to help low-income women get treatment for breast and cervical cancer," the Rocky Mountain News reported, his top agenda item was agreement on boundaries for Colorado's new 7th Congressional District. Seems legislators had tried to come to closure on the issue twice before and failed. Sound familiar?
6. The champs prepare to defend the Cup. The opening of the Colorado Avalanche's training camp in Stockholm, Sweden -- the stomping grounds of star Peter Forsberg -- was accompanied by high hopes, the Associated Press noted. After all, the Avs were the defending Stanley Cup champions. But while the team would make it to the NHL Western Conference finals that season, Forsberg and company eventually fell to the dreaded Detroit Red Wings -- and in the decade since, they've gone from perennial title contenders to playoff-missing underachievers.
5. More money for a good cause. The numbers were in for the fourteenth annual AIDS Walk, and while the total of $880,000 raised was similar to the prior year's amount, organizers told the Denver Post cuts in expenses would result in approximately $200,000 more going to those in need.Ten years later, the event continues to put one foot in front of the other for a good cause.
4. A record is tied -- and then shattered. In a game against your Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants pincushion Barry Bonds hit his 61st home run of the season, tying Roger Maris for the most ever by a left-handed batter. Then, he hit another one, followed by a third, in the same damn game. As for the Rockies, they came up with a three-peat of their own. After a confrontation with an umpire, then-manager Buddy Bell, then-hitting coach (and future manager) Clint Hurdle, and then-superstar Larry Walker were all ejected. Dejected, too, probably.
3. Pink slips aplenty. Qwest, one of Colorado's largest companies, announced that it would be laying off 4,000 workers, about a third of them from its home state and those nearby. The man who pulled the trigger was chairman Joe Nacchio, who eventually wound up behind bars. And this year, the company itself was swallowed up by CenturyLink, causing the permanent extinguishing of a certain blue light that shone over downtown Denver for many a year.
2. Snap to it. Years after his retirement, Ed McCaffrey continues to be a favorite of Broncos fans -- but he was even more of an icon in 2001. So fans were thunderstruck when he broke his leg in gruesome fashion during the very first game of the season, before a national television audience (more on that in the top selection). Anecdote: At the time, McCaffrey's son attended a school at which my wife was assistant principal -- and while the rest of the nation was grappling with 9/11, he was dealing with his dad's hospitalization. For his part, McCaffrey didn't learn about what happened in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania until he emerged from surgery.
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1. A new star gets its closeup. The game at which Ed McCaffrey was injured also happened to be the debut of Invesco Field at Mile High, the controversial replacement for Mile High Stadium -- and it was showcased on Monday Night Football, whose anchor booth included a seat for Dennis Miller at the time. But the new moniker wasn't built to last. In August, the naming rights were sold to Sports Authority -- one of innumerable changes to have taken place since that terrible morning in early September.
More from our Things to Do archive: "Top 10 moments in 10 years of Invesco Field at Mile High -- soon to be Sports Authority Field."