Strange but True
The Letter of the Law
In February, state representative Jack Pommer of Boulder introduced the "Cellphone Peeping Tom Bill," which made it illegal to photograph another person's private parts without his or her consent.
A Lakewood Girl Scout troop successfully lobbied legislators to designate yule marble as the official state rock.
In June, the Boulder City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the playing of percussion instruments, specifically bongos, on the Pearl Street Mall after midnight.
In 2005, it becomes a Class 2 misdemeanor to scratch a name, or anything at all, onto a cave wall, and punishable by up to $1,000 in fines.
Things Mayor John "I'd Go to the Opening of an Envelope" Hickenlooper Was Seen Doing in 2004
Climbing a rope in a dress shirt.
Boogying with First Lady Frances Owens to "I Will Survive."
Giving a holla from the stage as host of Cafe Nuba, a monthly spoken-word event in Five Points.
Introducing Slim Cessna's Auto Club at the Bluebird Theater.
Performing scenes from Peter and the Wolf in Civic Center Park.
Knocking over a tall stack of Styrofoam cups while trying to make a basketball swish shot with a Quizno's wrapper crumbled into a ball.
Leaping from a bulldozer (which was not piloted by Marvin Heemeyer).
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently investigating a freakish collection of fish that were pulled from the South Platte River and Boulder Creek two years ago: The white suckers have both male and female sex organs.
In April, a pulpit Bible and a pocket hymnal badly damaged in a church fire were restored in a high-tech freezer at Colorado State University. Named for a Chinese god believed to protect books from worms, insects and fire, the Wei T'o Book Dryer takes up forty cubic feet at CSU and can hold up to 200 books. The Bible and hymnal were frozen, then slowly drained of moisture over a three-month period.
A 54-year-old Jefferson County hospice worker told police that he sexually assaulted a terminally ill ten-year-old because he wanted her to experience pleasure before she died. The worker described three sexual encounters with the girl -- who was blind, deaf and nearly comatose -- as part of "an experiment."
A microburst sent tents flying and spectators running for cover on the second afternoon of the fourth annual Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan's Lake in August.
In May, a pig, lamb and dog were killed when a tornado touched down in the southeastern Colorado town of Simla, picked up a modular home and dropped it 550 feet away.
A woman watching a Memorial Day tribute at Boulder's Folsom Field was injured when a skydiver, part of a group from Mile-Hi Skydiving that was supposed to touch down on the field, got thrown off course by the wind and landed on top of the woman sitting in the stands.
In April, an eight-ton boulder exploded through the wall of a Glenwood Springs home. The giant rock disintegrated an office desk, blasted apart walls and left a ten-foot-by-seven-foot hole in the side of the house.
Truth in Advertising
"It will take you to Venus. It takes you on a ride through the galaxy on a cosmic journey into the stars." -- message on the label wrapped around bottles of Green Hornet, an herbal concoction that sent four Colorado Springs teenagers to the hospital in February. They arrived at the emergency room with excessive heart rates, seizures, severe body rashes and high blood pressure.
"The thrill of winning is on your mind, but the sheer exhilaration of teeing off just feet from the edge of the cliffs, with the wind blowing through your hair, is enough to make you know you are living on the Œedge.'" -- from a website advertising the Kremmling Cliff Classic Golf Tournament in June, where twenty golfers were flattened after lightning struck the cliff overlooking the town.
Nice Bedside Manner
In July, a nine-year-old Golden boy spent a night at Children's Hospital after he survived a lightning strike in Arvada. His mother held his hand all night while his stepfather told him stories -- about how lightning had struck and killed golfers playing in the rain, about how lightning had struck and killed nine elk out in a field.
In May, a deputy at Denver Police Department headquarters received a suspicious package containing three small packets of white powder. The Cherokee Street building was closed for several hours while the fire department and a haz-mat team investigated the substance, which turned out to be cocaine.
Both Marilyn Musgrave and Pete Coors logged at least one unwanted campaign contribution this fall. In August and September, respectively, Musgrave's Loveland campaign office and the Coors brewery in Golden received envelopes containing white powder. In each case, the powder was determined to be non-toxic -- after eighty Musgrave campaigners and 600 Coors employers were evacuated.
Porn in the USA (House of Representatives)
Marilyn Musgrave's 2002 campaign website was hijacked and redesigned as a porn site. This fall, Musgrave2002.com linked to a gay fetish page and other hard-core sex sites, including "Mr. Chew's Asian Beaver" and "The Big Tit Patrol." The original website had been designed by Burning Heart Websites of Littleton, which quotes biblical verses in its online mission statement.
In November, the Rocky Mountain News ran a "The Prickly City" comic strip that included a website address that led readers to a porn site.
Well, Can't We All
In October, state senator Ron Tupa, a Democrat from Boulder, was arrested outside the Giggling Grizzly, a LoDo frat-boy bar, after he ignored a warning to calm down and go home. Tupa, who'd been and arguing with a friend in front of the bar, reportedly told a Denver cop that he could "say Œfuck' as loud as he wanted." Although Tupa was charged with interfering with a police officer and disobeying a lawful order, both misdemeanors, the charges were later dropped. Fuckin-A!
Is That a Trick or a Treat?
A 23-year-old Boulder man was arrested for reportedly handing out pornographic DVDs to two thirteen-year-old boys who came to his door on Halloween night.
In June, a man broke into a hotel room shared by two teenage girls and used their cameras to take pictures of his penis, which he photographed on top of their drinking cups, bottles and food. The girls had left their cameras at the Broker Inn while they attended cheerleading camp at the University of Colorado; four other cheerleaders staying in the hotel also found their cameras filled with pictures of the unidentified shutterbug.
At Least It Wasn't a Washcloth
In May, Marilyn Ranson, a former employee of Paladin Press, won a $100,000 sexual-harassment verdict against the company and its 62-year-old president, Peder Lund. In court, Lund admitted that he sometimes walked around the office wearing only a towel.
The Young and the Restless
In June, a teenage boy stole a Mile Hi Frozen Foods semi while its driver made a delivery in Capitol Hill. The young driver smashed the truck into eight cars before crashing it on Logan Street.
In January, a thirteen-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a string of break-ins that caused $250,000 in damage to businesses in southeast Denver. At the American Oil & Gas Building on Hampden Avenue, according to police, the young vandal had spilled cognac, smeared blood and left a scrawled message that read, "She's cute and sexy as hell. I want her tomorrow by 8 p.m. or everybody will die." The cute, sexy girl was not identified. Two weeks earlier, a prowler had broken into the same building and spent 22 minutes surfing porn sites on a company computer.
In July, panicked passengers at an Englewood light-rail stop feared they were in the presence of a gun-wielding sniper when their chests and foreheads lit up with bright-red dots. The target-like orbs were actually caused by a pair of brothers -- one eighteen, one fifteen -- who were packing a laser pointer.
In February, a fifteen-year-old Grand Junction girl was charged in an $88,000 bank robbery that included three bomb threats.
And the Young at Heart
In May, a federal jury convicted a 72-year-old Denver man of depositing a $79,000 counterfeit check at a Norwest bank.
Two men, ages 64 and 58, were hospitalized in February with smoke inhalation and minor burns after they detonated an illegal, military-style smoke grenade in the Cherry Creek Place apartments in southeast Denver.
Who Can It Be Now?
In August, a Denver man pretending to be a police officer drove a white Chevy Suburban with its emergency lights on and led a high-speed chase of a suspected thief. While applying for a bank loan earlier, he had claimed to be a SWAT officer.
A 58-year-old man stole the identity of his 82-year-old landlord, a female who is believed to have died in the southwest Denver home they shared. When a concerned neighbor came looking for the old woman, the man answered the door in a raspy voice and claimed that he was she -- with a bad case of laryngitis. Later, he used the same voice to talk to a neighbor on the phone for two hours. The formerly homeless man died in July, when the house caught fire and burned to the ground.
An Aurora man arrested in June for sexual assault was also charged with impersonating a doctor. He had previously posed as a chiropractor, a massage therapist and a cosmetologist.
More than a hundred pumpkins in a Highlands Ranch pumpkin patch.
Eighty headstones at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins.
St. Catherine of Siena Church in Burlington, where an intruder pushed over a Christ figure, spilled communion water, ripped up prayer books and set fire to the pews.
Walls, signs and windows at West, Lincoln and Kennedy high schools, hit by a tag-banging crew called the Evil Mind Society.
The Democratic Party headquarters on Santa Fe Drive, which was sprayed with the phrase "Bigger cages; longer chains." The vandals also left a large "A" with a circle around it, leading Dems to conclude the work was done by anarchists.
Well, He Must Love Fire
In April, volunteer firefighter Austin Mayo was sentenced to nine years in prison for setting four fires in the Fort Collins area, including a blaze that destroyed the 123-year-old Virginia Dale Community Church. Three days before Mayo set the first fire, the Livermore Fire Department named him Firefighter of the Year.
We Hardly Knew Ye
A thirty-year-old nurse resigned from the federal prison system after confessing that she'd had sex with an inmate in a treatment room at a detention center in Florence.
Farrell Kaye, a disc jockey with Aspen's KSPN radio, was fired in October after corporate brass discovered that he was moonlighting as a stripper.
The Naked City
A female employee of an Aurora Burger King found herself naked on the job after a telephone prankster, who identified himself as a police officer, ordered the store's manager to strip-search her. The caller said the woman was wanted for theft. Once nude, the woman was also told to jog in place and lick the telephone. She has sued Burger King and the owner of the franchise.
Two female Air Force Academy students were expelled after officials learned they'd performed an exotic dance at a dormitory party in July. Five male students were also expelled when they admitted they'd encouraged the pair to strip, shimmy and grind for a throng of more than thirty guys.
In August, a federal prisoner escaped authorities near downtown Denver by feigning a leg injury to avoid being shackled around the ankles. The prisoner jumped from a transport van, stripped and fled to the Platte River Greenway wearing only his boxers. His orange socks were found near the Children's Museum.
A robber who held up a Compass Bank in July did a short striptease and ran away, then returned to the scene of the crime wearing jogging shorts and tennis shoes and carrying a wad of cash. He was caught by police six minutes after first leaving the bank.
One hundred guns, stolen from Denver-area gun stores in a three-week period in May.
A cache of powerful Trojan Boosters explosives used for avalanche control at the Winter Park ski area, stolen from a storage shed in March.
120,000 units of fifteen different controlled substances with an estimated street value of more than $600,000, which disappeared from a Golden pharmacy last year. In January, the pharmacy paid the federal government $625,000 to settle a civil lawsuit.
A large iguana on the loose at Arvada High School after vandals broke in and smashed glass, including the reptile's tank.
Finger bones, in September, by a team of researchers in Lake City, on a hillside near where five bodies -- maybe dead, maybe alive -- were cannibalized by Alfred Packer 130 years ago.
A colony of 40,000 to 100,000 bees living in the attic of a Commerce City home; the hive, rumored to be between a few and sixty cubic feet, could have held more than 150 pounds of honey.
Three mutilated calves, with their genitals sliced off, in October in Moffat County.
A black bear sitting in a tree in Fort Collins's Grandview Cemetery in September.
Approximately forty boxes' worth of stolen goods -- including two skulls, bone fragments, pots and pottery shards -- that were turned over to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores at the conclusion of a five-month, statewide artifact-amnesty program designed to recoup items looted from Indian tribal lands.
Thirty dogs, three cats, 23 horses, two pigs, two peacocks, two donkeys, two emus, two llamas, a steer and a rooster, confiscated from the home of a Parker woman in October.
A donkey to carry Mary in Pueblo's Posada celebration, a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary's search for shelter, on Christmas Eve. Organizers had scrambled to find a replacement for the old donkey, who died last year at age 28; for Christmas 2003, Mary had to walk.
Joseph Allen Striegle, aka Robert Lemcool, a 51-year-old auto-parts salesman who had escaped from a Michigan prison in 1981. In December, he was arrested in the parking lot of a Westminster Wal-Mart after 23 years on the lam.
The Bandage Bandit -- also known as the No Nose Bandit because the bandages he wore around his face during seventeen bank robberies sometimes flattened his nose -- was nabbed by Littleton police in March.
The Big Man Bandit, who liked to beat up and rob the elderly, was nabbed in January.
Corporate Jim, a well-dressed, lifelong robber who hit five banks after being released from federal prison in May, was nabbed by the FBI in Arvada.
Still at Large
The Marlboro Bandits, a gang consisting of a man, woman and teenage boy who stole nothing but cigarettes during a string of robberies in Lakewood and Denver. The trio made off with more than a hundred cartons.
Who That Masked Man Was
Believing that their store was about to be held up, in February employees of a Glenwood Springs Wal-Mart called police after a man walked in wearing a ski mask, a snowsuit and silver moon boots. Police soon discovered that the would-be robber was Michael Jackson, who was staying on a 56-acre ranch in Snowmass with his children. Jackson also visited a nearby Wolf Camera, where he spoke to a clerk in a fake French accent and bought a laser pointer.
What Seventy-Year-Old Catholic Priest Carl Kabat Was Wearing When He Was Arrested for Trespassing at a Weld County Missile Site on Good Friday
A clown suit.
What Cable Heiress Sharon Magness Was Riding When She Arrived at Her Wedding to Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake
Her horse Thunder, the former Broncos mascot. Witnesses to the bridal gallop included Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Lee Greenwood, who later serenaded the couple with a rendition of "God Bless the U.S.A."
What an Entrance
A Baptist pastor was charged with carrying a loaded handgun into the downtown Denver federal courthouse when he reported for jury duty in July.
The top bid on a couch placed on auction by Steve Farland, owner of the Chairman, a furniture store on South Broadway. Farland suggested to customers and the media that the sofa and a chair, which he bought from the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, could have come from room 35, where Kobe Bryant stayed on the night he is accused of raping an Eagle woman in late June 2003. (Cordillera management maintains that all furniture in the room was disposed of.) Farland refused the $4,000 bid; he believes the piece, which he's putting on eBay, is worth $10,000.
Amount paid in May by Tim and Carol Milner for the Boulder home where JonBenét Ramsey was killed in 1996. Carol Milner is the daughter of televangelist Robert Schuller, host of the Hour of Power show.
Signs of Trouble
No wonder Ken Salazar defeated Pete Coors in November's Senate race: The beer baron's company was stumping for the other guy. During a September fundraiser at the Fillmore Auditorium, the marquee outside read "Coors Light Welcomes...Ken Salazar." Coors is a title sponsor of the Colfax venue but didn't get to profit off the politicos, since the brewery's products were yanked for the evening.
Don't Get Carried Away
"Not since the Super Wal-Mart opened," said Molly Johnson, when asked if her home town of La Junta had ever been as excited as it was during an August campaign stop by John Kerry and John Edwards.
"Give us your rich, your upper middle class, your trust-fund babies yearning to spend their parents' money on knockoff tribal jewelry sold by Indians on the side of the interstate. We've got skiing, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, rafting, canoeing, cycling, hunting, running, jogging, speed walking and normal walking. Colorado has it all!" -- Dickie Pilager, fictional candidate for president in John Sayles's Silver City, filmed in Colorado.
"My suggestion is to simply hang one at each end of town. In my community, that is the voice of moderation." -- outgoing Republican state senator Ken Chlouber discussing agents of the Environmental Protection Agency in Gillian Klucas's Leadville: The Struggle to Revive an American Town.
Jay Leno, on The Tonight Show: "It's been reported that Denver is the drunkest city in the United States."
Fred Willard as a Denver booster, slurring: "That's true, Jay. The numbers, just like the people of Denver, are staggering."
"Though you may sporadically witness people running on Colfax Avenue, they almost certainly aren't joggers. They're either fleeing from the police or running for their lives. In Denver, they're most likely doing both. If marathon participants are in need of a quick pick-me-up, they can stop at one of the many abnormally busy pay phones along Colfax -- where, when a certain number is called, a gentleman magically appears with a bag of amphetamines, or any narcotic they may desire." -- Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi, writing in November on the proposed Colfax Avenue Marathon.
Yeah, But It's Progressive Urban Disorder
"There is no reason in the world for a city like Denver to have this degree of urban disorder." -- Councilwoman Carol Boigon, discussing Colfax.
"Colfax welcomes and embraces neighborhood diversity that encompasses a wide variety of ages, economic circumstances, ethnic groups and family types. Colfax exemplifies the best of what a city can offer: a vibrant, hip and progressive urban avenue." -- from Denver's East Colfax Vision Statement, a city blueprint for the Colfax redevelopment project.
Get Off My Land
A 62-year-old farmer/landowner petitioned Jefferson County commissioners to change the zoning of eighteen acres from residential to agricultural. The man and his wife hoped to use the land to raise cattle and store his collection of John Deere tractors. The commissioners, calling the case "refreshing" in a county with explosive development, unanimously approved his request.
Mournful citizens of the small mountain community of Redstone held a memorial service for Kylie, a black bear with an injured paw who was trapped and killed by the Division of Wildlife in September. Kylie, who had a history of breaking into homes, was eulogized in prayer and song by assorted townspeople, including an Anglican priest.
A large black bear spent the day with residents of a trailer park in Clifton.
In September, a 500-pound bear known to citizens of Aspen as "Fat Albert" broke into the home of a 56-year-old paralyzed man, who listened from his bed for two hours as the bear raided his kitchen. The man later remarked that the bear had been fairly tidy, only going after food. Earlier in the month, a bear had broken into the man's house through a sliding glass door and taken a nap in his kitchen.
In March, Omni Research and Training donated three bulletproof vests to dogs in the Denver Police Department's Canine Unit, which the canines could wear on patrol.
Wildlife officials were stunned by the death of a young wolf found west of Idaho Springs in June. The animal -- the first confirmed wild wolf in Colorado in 61 years -- was hit by a car on 1-70, which is known as the "Berlin Wall" for wolves. According to federal guidelines, those discovered south of the interstate are classified as endangered, while those north of it are considered merely threatened. The wolf's death came three days before a multi-agency panel was to begin drafting a statewide wolf-management plan.
In November, the Division of Wildlife fielded calls from several concerned residents who saw a huge elk wandering around Evergreen with a hammock tangled in his rack. Callers also reported seeing another elk with Christmas lights wrapped in his.
A minivan smashed into a Fort Collins home in November, taking out the entire front porch and front window. The homeowner said the window seat was normally occupied by the family dog, Lucky, who was in the back yard at the time of the crash.
In the Ground
Among the species counted during Bioblitz, a 24-hour survey of 6,000 acres of public land on the Boulder/Jefferson County border in June: rare prairie mushrooms, nine families of spiders, 86 birds, 733 insects, an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly, segmented aquatic worms, small snails and a fat-headed minnow.
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