Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Denver International Airport is in the dark about marketing Colorado

A week ago, I was watching the sun rise at the Garden of the Gods -- a stunning experience that, if marketed right, could start a tourism stampede to Colorado.

And if the scenery doesn't rope in the visitors, the Garden of the Gods Visitors Center will: The thirteen-year-old boy in our group taking a quick Colorado tour, already wearing a Pikes Peak hoodie, was thrilled with the "merch" in the gift shop. So was I: Unlike the items available at shops at Denver International Airport, much of it was actually from Colorado.

We picked up elk jerky made in Colorado (not Montana, not Indiana) and aspen leaf earrings, and mugs and books that, if not made in Colorado, at least focused on Colorado. (We could have done without the instrumentals of John Denver songs piped through the sound system -- but then, it was early.)

The real revelation, though, was the new, improved, HD Garden of the Gods movie -- How Did Those Red Rocks Get There? -- that we watched in the tiny auditorium. Not just because the movie was good, although it was, and it definitely deserved a larger audience. Perhaps a captive audience of travelers stuck at DIA?

I've already suggested that the airport set up Always Buy Colorado gift shops and art exhibits and craft-beer kiosks. Add to that the idea of taking one of those empty storefronts, setting up a little movie area, and showing films produced by Colorado attractions. Yes, there would be some costs involved, but I'll bet a corporate do-gooder would donate the equipment. And the movies are already made. (During big blizzard delays, DIA could show one of the rare feature films actually made in Colorado.)

The only obstacle? Those airport prudey-pants who've locked a playhouse at DIA for fear that someone might get too playful inside could also start fretting about what bored travelers might do in the dark.

Still, that niggling (and nit-witted) concern shouldn't prevent DIA from shining a light on Colorado.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Green Awards looking for grassroots ideas: How about recycling by the program's ad?"

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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