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Ten Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day in Denver

Boulder Creek Festival's Ferris wheel isn't quite as tall as the Flatirons.
Boulder Creek Festival's Ferris wheel isn't quite as tall as the Flatirons.
Courtesy Visit Colorado Facebook page
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Memorial Day is here, and this weekend we honor those who paid the ultimate price so we could have a day off on Monday. So how are you going to take advantage of the three-day weekend your brothers and sisters fought for? Get inked, get shot, get XLR8R-ed: These are but a few of your Memorial Day options. We've dug deep and found some happenings you may not know about. Keep reading for our weekend picks. 

Dreamscape Piercing and Tattoo Memorial Day Specials
Through May 28
474 Malley Drive, Northglenn

If you're a first responder, vet or active serviceman looking for some new ink, you're in luck. From now through Memorial Day, you'll get 30 percent off tattoos at Dreamscape. So that cutie nudie you've been thinking about getting for a while? There's never been a better time. And supporters getting military, first responder or memorial tats aren't left out in the cold, either: They'll get a fifteen per cent discount. Your grandpa's fondest wish (other than freedom for the U.S. of A.) was always that you'd get a tattoo of him on your pecs, right?

Boulder Creek Festival's Ferris wheel isn't quite as tall as the Flatirons.
Boulder Creek Festival's Ferris wheel isn't quite as tall as the Flatirons.
Courtesy Visit Colorado Facebook page

Boulder Creek Festival
May 26 to May 28
Boulder Creek Corridor
Boulder's second-best-known Memorial Day weekend event is much less strenuous than its most famous (the Bolder Boulder) — and a lot more fun, at least for those who would rather relax to some music than race the mean streets of the People's Republic. The Boulder Creek Festival has been taking over Boulder's Central Park and its surrounding blocks for over thirty years and has grown to more than 500 arts, lifestyle and tech vendors; three stages that are packed with performers all day long; carnival rides; and food and drink for all ages. And while the famous rubber duck races on Boulder Creek have been rescheduled from Memorial Day to Labor Day, there's always enough great people-watching in Boulder (it's the official municipal pastime) to ensure that you won't be without entertainment.

Ten Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day in DenverEXPAND
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Memorial Weekend Summer Kickoff
May 26 to May 28
Heritage Amusement Park, Golden
$18 and up

If you want to hit the rides at an amusement park this weekend but balk at the idea of heading downtown — and the associated price tag — Heritage Amusement Park (formerly Heritage Square) has two words for you: free parking. Instead of paying $20 to park miles from the gate, pack up your covered wagon and head west for the Golden park's opening weekend, where you and your kiddos can enjoy classic summer rides along with bumper boats, go-carts and a zipline. Special activities for little ones will be on deck all weekend, and guests are even welcome to bring their own picnic lunches, thus saving you at least $112 in concessions — if not the whining of kids desperate for funnel cake.

Ten Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day in DenverEXPAND
Brandon Marshall

South Gaylord Memorial Weekend Festival
May 26 to May 28
1000 block of South Gaylord Street
For wholesome, old-fashioned family fun, check out this festival taking over the 1000 block of South Gaylord Street for the weekend. The show starts with live music at 4 p.m. Saturday and continues through Monday afternoon with over fifty craft vendors selling everything from dog leashes to lotion, carnival rides, a bounce house and (as if navigating the mob of Wash Park families with their all-terrain strollers and Bernese Mountain dogs won't be challenging enough) an inflatable obstacle course. Food and treats from Park Burger, Frozen Matter and more will be on hand, in addition to adult beverages for those over the age of 21 who deserve to have a little fun, too.

Fair food and fireworks at Elitch's: a classic combo.EXPAND
Fair food and fireworks at Elitch's: a classic combo.
Brandon Marshall

Elitch Gardens Memorial Day Fireworks
May 27, 10 p.m.
Elitch Gardens
$29.99 and up

This weekend marks not only the opening of Elitch's water park (as of this writing, the weather forecast calls for a high of 85 degrees, so it might even feel like early summer for a change), but the theme park's inaugural fireworks show of the year. The bottle rockets start going off at closing time, so if you want to save a few bucks, opt for the discounted park entry after 5 p.m.; if you want to save all the bucks, stake out a spot in a nearby parking lot with a few late-night snacks and settle in for a free show.

Memorial Day Nerf Battle
May 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cornerstone Park, Englewood
If you thoughtfully consider the reason for the upcoming three-day weekend, it might seem odd to memorialize the deaths of soldiers and servicemen by having a mock battle with foam bullets. Or maybe not, because Americans will use any excuse to discharge a firearm. Had a few beers? Fire a couple rounds into the sky. Honoring Grandpa's participation in WWII? Shoot a stranger in the face with faux ammo. Sharpen your sharpshooter's instincts (and aim) for just $7 for 45 minutes of play time. And you can get your little ones in on the action, too: The event is open to kids ages five and up.

Memorial Day Parade
May 28, 10 a.m. to noon
East 64th Avenue and Newport Street, Commerce City

It's surprising that the Mile High City can't rouse as much support for a Memorial Day Parade as it can for, say, a holiday devoted to getting snockered on Guinness. And while there isn't a grand procession that winds through downtown, Commerce City's parade is sizable, drawing a hundred patriotic floats and parade entries to march 1.5 miles down East 64th Avenue and end up at 60th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. Another benefit to the scaled-back spectacle? Spectators won't have to have combat training just to secure parking or a prime viewing location.

These gorgeous girls come out of the garage for Street Rodders for Life's Memorial Day Car Show.
These gorgeous girls come out of the garage for Street Rodders for Life's Memorial Day Car Show.
Courtesy Street Rodders for Life Facebook page

Street Rodders Memorial Day Car Show
May 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
10625 West Colfax Avenue
It's unofficially summer, which means it's cruising weather. And convertible weather. And car-washing weather. Basically, it's time to pack up the tarps and get your vehicular vixens out on the town so they can see and be seen. Whether you have a beloved vehicle that gets a rubdown in the driveway every weekend or you just like ogling others' headlights, the Street Rodders for Life car show, which can draw over a thousand cars, will impress. Show cars, antiques, hot rods, muscle cars, trucks and vans show up at 7 a.m. ($10 if you want to enter your own car, $5 if you want unlimited pancakes), and the show opens to the public at 10 a.m., bringing live music, a magic show, fire truck rides and a funnel cake-eating contest to the masses.

Fort Logan National Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony
May 28, 11 a.m.
Fort Logan National Cemetery

Memorial Day was called Decoration Day from its first observation in 1868 until it was made a national holiday in 1971 (and retailers decided "Memorial Day Blowout Sale" rolled off the tongue a bit more easily). You can still celebrate the old-old-school way by visiting Fort Logan National Cemetery's ceremony honoring those who lost their lives in active duty and decorating their headstones with flowers and miniature American flags. So instead of spending the day frantically scouring the Internet for the best deal on two dozen inflatable giraffes, spend it doing something more meaningful and a lot more relaxing.

Don't be afraid, the gorilla is very friendly.
Don't be afraid, the gorilla is very friendly.
Courtesy Carousel of Happines Facebook page

Carousel of Happiness Memorial Day Ceremony
May 28, 12 p.m.
Carousel of Happiness, Nederland

For simple pleasures, you can't beat a carousel. Long before they clamor to ride the Mind Eraser or Tower of Doom, kids beg to perch on a particular pony that takes them in slow, smooth circles. This merry-go-round is over a hundred years old and surely one of the most adorable of the past century, with 35 animals hand-carved by Vietnam vet and Nederland resident Scott Harrison making the rounds — and not just horses, but alpacas, kangaroos, frogs and dolphins. This weekend, the landmark hosts a procession, ceremony and silent memorial ride to mark the holiday, and while the cost of just a buck per ride makes this a genuinely accessible attraction, those who have served will be able to ride for free. 

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