Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Colorful Colorado sign lives on at History Colorado

My favorite artifact on display at the new History Colorado Center is an old "Colorful Colorado" sign right by the fabulous floor map of Colorado, riddled with bullet holes and sporting colored-in lettering -- vandalism, according to the highway workers who took down the sign. History, according to History Colorado.

For decades, travelers have posed by these decidedly uncolorful signs that welcome people to Colorado without irony, their rustic lettering looking like some summer-camp wood-burning project. That page of history was almost ripped out seven years ago when, under Governor Bill Owens, there was an ill-fated attempt to remove the increasingly decrepit signs and replace them with weather-proof (and bulletproof) logos that looked like so much corporate branding.

But Coloradans fought back against that, giving a great back-story to the sign at History Colorado -- not that you'll find any mention of that debacle there. Maybe the chapter will be added one day to this work-in-progress museum, along with a spot where this state's visitors and residents can upload the photos they take as they enter the state.

And yesterday offered another snapshot of the people who decide to call Colorado home: my parents, who crossed the border in a minivan brigade, the next stop on a journey that started more than eight decades ago.

One of the great things about this state is how, against a stunning backdrop, people feel empowered to add their own color, bringing endless creativity to matter their origins, no matter their age.

Is everyone moving to Colorado? According to the Brookings Institute, more 25-to-34-year-olds move to the metro area over the past three years than any other city. Read more in "Fifteen reasons why young people are moving to Colorado."

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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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