Yesterday afternoon, across the street from the Westword offices, the first Sniagrab tent popped up on the sidewalk outside Sports Authority in anticipation of huge discounts on sporting gear. With a new law banning urban camping on the books, Sports Authority acquired a permit from the city to allow prospective buyers to camp on the city streets. The first in line -- and the first to leave the line -- was 22-year-old Derek Rivoli, a soft-spoken snowboarding enthusiast and aspiring nature guide.
Being the first of anything is a lonely endeavor, and camping for a sale is no exception. Last night, Derek's lone tent stuck out like a sore thumb on the sunny Broadway sidewalk. "I'm just hanging out and meeting new people at the same time," Rivoli said, though he admitted that the only new person he had met was a guy who randomly walked by to laugh at him. "I was backpack guiding all summer, so I figured camping out for five days wouldn't be that big of a deal for me." He was reading King Solomon's Ring by Konrad Lorenz, which he called "pretty funny," while waiting for his girlfriend and buddies to join him for a few nights of lighthearted urban fun. Rivoli didn't appeared too concerned about the week, but what happened next was so alarming that it shook our reporter to his very core -- or at least surprised him.
When we went back to check up on Rivoli a while later, his tent was gone -- vanished, seemingly into thin air. Even more mysterious: By the next morning, four more tents had taken his place, and all of them were empty, leaving even more unanswered questions than the night before. Continue reading to learn more about the mystery of the empty Sniagrab tents.
So what happened to poor, sweet, innocent Derek? Perhaps he was kidnapped by Canadian snowboard cartels; perhaps he left for a nature walk and never came back; perhaps he was never there to begin with. There are even whispers that he found a better deal at Colorado Ski & Golf.
All of these explanations seem logical, except that none of them explain the appearance of the mysterious ghost shanty-town. Was this some sort of clue Rivoli left behind for authorities to find him? Perhaps a ploy to encourage other campers?
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The key to the mystery seems to lie in a vague comment Rivoli shared before he disappeared: He said he was "taking an astronomy class -- the only thing I'm doing right now." One expert, who asked not to be identified, believes that in light of this evidence, the four tents were most likely constructed to house ancient aliens who are actually the four horsemen of the apocalypse, set to arrive December 21 this year. He also believes that the person who seemed to be Derek Rivoli was none other than the second incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Just look at the number of letters in their first and last names. They match up perfectly.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Sniagrab campers finally show up: Screw you, urban camping ban!"