Commemorative items started appearing at 11th and Delaware just hours after news broke on January 1 that Darrent Williams had been shot dead early that morning. Flowers, candles, notes, stuffed animals and jerseys -- all part of an unofficial homage to number 27 -- were placed on and below a fence near where the limo carrying Williams and other partyers stopped after it was sprayed by bullets in a drive-by.
Keith Schrum, the associate curator of manuscripts at the Colorado Historical Society, who archived many of the pieces left outside Columbine High School in April 1999, did his own walk-by to see the Williams shrine on January 3. "I was able to look at it somewhat objectively, but after a time it got to me," he says. "While I was there, a woman came up with some helium-filled balloons and a bouquet of flowers and a card. It takes your breath away."
The next day, a construction crew working on the TM Corporation's loft project moved the item-festooned fence to a nearby city right-of-way, where a smaller collection had accumulated. And there, long after the last candle flickered out, fans kept adding fresh flowers, new notes, a tattered shirt with the message "This is my old lucky shirt, retired for you."
But retired where, exactly? This past Saturday, the shrine disappeared from the Golden Triangle site. All that was left of the memorial was a tiny bouquet of dead flowers, frozen in the fresh snow.
As it turns out, the Denver Broncos intercepted the collection. According to Ann Williams, spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Public Works, the city's parks department contacted her office last week to find out how long the memorial would be up. (Technically, such displays violate zoning, but if they don't affect public safety, the city tends to leave them in place.) Public Works put in a call to the Broncos, who told the city that they would combine the Darrent Williams memorabilia left outside the Dove Valley training facility with the 11th and Speer collection. And this past weekend, a Denver crew boxed up that shrine and delivered it to Invesco Field at Mile High.
"The box was received by stadium personnel," confirms Paul Kirk, director of media relations for the Broncos. "We will go through the contents of that box to determine if any of those things are salvageable. Any that are salvageable will be sent to Darrent Williams's mother."
Billy Thompson, the Broncos' director of player relations and alumni coordinator (and himself a thirteen-year veteran who earned a place on the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1987), said the team hasn't yet decided how it will remember Williams permanently; at the moment, a page at www.denverbroncos.com is dedicated to him. "The whole thing has just been incredible," Thompson says. "The feelings in this whole state for this team -- it's incredible."
Shrine on. Scene and herd: Next month, Fulcrum Publishing will release The Man, the Mayor, and the Making of Modern Denver, former Denver mayor Wellington Webb's autobiography (co-written by aide Cindy Brovsky), complete with testimonials from Senator Ken Salazar and former president Bill Clinton. All in all, The M an is a much more ambitious tome than the Webb-authorized To Make a Mayor, the book on his 1991 run for mayor that was written by the late Deborah Tucker, another Webb aide, and published by a vanity press in Maryland back in 1995.
But it still won't be as down and dirty -- or as critical of the press -- as any book she might produce, former first lady Wilma Webb promised an Off Limits operative earlier this month. The hunt for Darrent Williams's killer continues, but the search for his shrine has a happy ending.
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