Off Limits

Seeking refuge from the Friday-night crush inside Lime, the Larimer Square hot spot he opened last November with Denver restaurateur Curt Sims, co-owner William Logan was kicking it in his back office when Lime's manager bustled in with exciting news: "'N Sync is coming!" Evidently, the boy band's tour manager had just been in to arrange a private room for Chris, J.C., Justin, Joey and Lance -- plus entourage -- for dinner on Sunday, the night before 'N Sync's Pepsi Center concert.

Logan was less than thrilled. "Is that a good thing?" he asked. "I'm not really sure the image we're going for here is 'Lime: The place where N'Sync comes when they're in Denver.'" But the manager argued that few, if any, of Lime's ultra-hip twenty- and thirty-something patrons would even recognize the band's members.

"Okay, but what if we have 5,000 Tiger Beat readers show up outside?" countered Logan.

"They promised to keep a low profile," the manager replied. "They've learned. They don't ride in limousines anymore. They'll be in a mini-van with tinted windows."

Logan eventually relented -- but 'N Sync never showed.

Up the food chain: The Denver Zoo is not happy to see Ocean Journey take a dive. Really. Truly. And zoo director Clayton Freiheit isn't rubbing his hands together and cackling with glee, promises zoo spokeswoman Angela Baier. "We were concerned, back when we first heard that there was going to be an aquarium, that it might negatively affect our attendance. But it's been good for us and the industry, and we are sad to see it go," she insists. "It is the first accredited institution of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, an organization to which we both belong, to not succeed, and that's a disappointment, not just for Denver, but nationwide."

Not that the zoo is above using the demise of Ocean Journey -- which plans to close for good on April 2 unless a bag full of money shows up on its doorstep before then -- as a marketing tool: Freiheit has offered free zoo memberships through Labor Day for anyone who turns in his soon-to-be-useless aquarium membership.

But in truth, Ocean Journey wore out its welcome at the zoo a while back. For the first two years of the aquarium's existence, the zoo sold lemonade and other beverages in giant plastic cups with the zoo's logo on one side and Ocean Journey's on the other. "The zoo ended that program when Ocean Journey applied for SCFD funds," Baier says.

That would be the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which collects sales-tax money and distributes it to cultural groups that qualify -- but mainly to the zoo, the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Although it promised not to apply for SCFD money until 2005, Ocean Journey reneged on that vow last summer when it first realized it might be going under.

"There was a lot of controversy, because they said they wouldn't go for the funds, and a lot of people in the community were angry," Baier explains. "The political climate was such that we thought the cups weren't a good image, and we said, 'Maybe we'll just do one of our own for a while.'"

That attitude might seem a bit isolationist, but taking a more global approach has proved hazardous recently. No sooner did parking manager John Oglesby announce that his draconian 7 a.m.-to-11 p.m. plan for the city's meters was in recognition of Denver's "world-class" status than Mayor Wellington Webb booted the proposal, at least temporarily. And the Ocean Journey sign overlooking I-25 proclaims to all passersby that the drowning facility is a "world-class" aquarium.

Totally screwed: Spring has sprung. How do we know? The birds are doing it (although not at Ocean Journey), the bees are doing it, and the folks from "It's OK to Say No Way," well, they're not doing it. That's because April 2-5 is Colorado Abstinence Awareness Week, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Governor Bill Owens, who sponsor the Web site, and the Colorado Abstinence Education Program, which "strives to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by supporting efforts to increase sexual abstinence among Colorado teens."

To celebrate this wild week, former Miss Black America and current motivational speaker Lakita Garth will be coming to Denver, Colorado Springs, Greeley, Longmont and Pueblo, spreading her message.

But don't get your knickers in a knot. According to Cindy Parmenter, spokeswoman for the state health department, abstaining from sex until marriage isn't official state policy. "We've had this program since 1997," she notes (and that would be long before Owens came into office). "It's designed to give kids a choice." Still, the current "It's OK to Say No Way" advertising campaign is the program's first; commercials are now airing on cable channels throughout the state. "We also have a program that urges teens to be careful about sexually transmitted diseases," Parmenter adds. And the state health department even has one that provides information about contraceptives! Way!

The ads, which were subsidized by a $250,000 federal grant, will run through the fall -- right into October's "National Talk to Your Kids About Sex" Month, which the state health department also joins in.

Whew! Is it getting hot in here or what?


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