Best Corral for Decommissioned Grocery-Store Penny Ponies

T.D. Rowe/ ACE Vending Company

They shoot horses, don't they? The mechanical ponies that grazed for pennies near grocery-store entrances may well be moving from threatened animals to full-blown endangered-species status. For decades, the brightly colored "equus plasticus" has been sufficiently attractive to compel tots to hop aboard for a slow rocking and their first real taste of sheer boredom. Now, as shopping has become our national obsession, most retailers have found that they need to get kids out of the foyer and into the aisles, where they can badger their parents to make purchases. And so many mechanical penny ponies have been put out to pasture. Just north of downtown, the creatures are corraled, nuzzle to hock, in a chain-link enclosed yard to wait out that awkward time between obsolescence and valuable Antiques Roadshow treasure. Bring a camera: They're just waiting to be shot.

Best Corral for Decommissioned Grocery-Store Penny Ponies

T.D. Rowe/ ACE Vending Company

They shoot horses, don't they? The mechanical ponies that grazed for pennies near grocery-store entrances may well be moving from threatened animals to full-blown endangered-species status. For decades, the brightly colored "equus plasticus" has been sufficiently attractive to compel tots to hop aboard for a slow rocking and their first real taste of sheer boredom. Now, as shopping has become our national obsession, most retailers have found that they need to get kids out of the foyer and into the aisles, where they can badger their parents to make purchases. And so many mechanical penny ponies have been put out to pasture. Just north of downtown, the creatures are corraled, nuzzle to hock, in a chain-link enclosed yard to wait out that awkward time between obsolescence and valuable Antiques Roadshow treasure. Bring a camera: They're just waiting to be shot.


"If you build it, they will come" is a hackneyed Hollywood phrase that's sunk deep into the American lexicon; apparently it served as the mantra of the optimistic developers behind Coyote Ridge at Strasburg. For all you agoraphobics and urban dwellers, Strasburg is a sleepy little hamlet 35 miles east of Denver on I-70, where Coyote Ridge boasts single-family homes starting in the $170s. The four sunny models -- the Sunset, the Twilight, the Daybreak and the Sunrise -- would fit right into the happy suburban confines of Highlands Ranch, Aurora or Broomfield. Except, of course, that these are in Strasburg (hit Limon and you've gone too far). If you're sick of T-Rex traffic, the brown cloud and 24-hour grocery stores, you may have a home in Coyote Ridge, Colorado's best far-out example of urban sprawl. Or is it just far out?
"If you build it, they will come" is a hackneyed Hollywood phrase that's sunk deep into the American lexicon; apparently it served as the mantra of the optimistic developers behind Coyote Ridge at Strasburg. For all you agoraphobics and urban dwellers, Strasburg is a sleepy little hamlet 35 miles east of Denver on I-70, where Coyote Ridge boasts single-family homes starting in the $170s. The four sunny models -- the Sunset, the Twilight, the Daybreak and the Sunrise -- would fit right into the happy suburban confines of Highlands Ranch, Aurora or Broomfield. Except, of course, that these are in Strasburg (hit Limon and you've gone too far). If you're sick of T-Rex traffic, the brown cloud and 24-hour grocery stores, you may have a home in Coyote Ridge, Colorado's best far-out example of urban sprawl. Or is it just far out?


Sure, we miss having the airport close to the city -- but at least Denver got something out of the deal. Last year, the Stapleton redevelopment project received the James C. Howland Urban Enrichment Silver Award from the National League of Cities for its contributions to the urban environment. The old airport is being redeveloped into a combination of housing, shops, office buildings and parks, incorporating such elements of traditional neighborhood design as tree-lined streets, parks, front porches and old-time architecture, with 21st-century technology and sensibilities (including drought-resistant landscaping). And 21st-century capitalism: There was never a Wal-Mart on Main Street.
Sure, we miss having the airport close to the city -- but at least Denver got something out of the deal. Last year, the Stapleton redevelopment project received the James C. Howland Urban Enrichment Silver Award from the National League of Cities for its contributions to the urban environment. The old airport is being redeveloped into a combination of housing, shops, office buildings and parks, incorporating such elements of traditional neighborhood design as tree-lined streets, parks, front porches and old-time architecture, with 21st-century technology and sensibilities (including drought-resistant landscaping). And 21st-century capitalism: There was never a Wal-Mart on Main Street.
Sox Place
From the darkness of his troubled adolescence in Arkansas, Doyle Robinson found the light: He would draw upon his own pain to help troubled teens. From his early days handing out tube socks to homeless kids on the 16th Street Mall, Robinson's vision has grown to include Sox Place, a converted downtown auto shop that's now Denver's only daytime drop-in youth center, where kids can find a warm bowl of soup, a quiet place to crash, easy camaraderie and the occasional punk concert. And if they're seeking spiritual guidance, Robinson -- an ordained minister with the Assembly of God -- can offer that, too. But he prefers action to words, showing the power of faith rather than preaching it.
From the darkness of his troubled adolescence in Arkansas, Doyle Robinson found the light: He would draw upon his own pain to help troubled teens. From his early days handing out tube socks to homeless kids on the 16th Street Mall, Robinson's vision has grown to include Sox Place, a converted downtown auto shop that's now Denver's only daytime drop-in youth center, where kids can find a warm bowl of soup, a quiet place to crash, easy camaraderie and the occasional punk concert. And if they're seeking spiritual guidance, Robinson -- an ordained minister with the Assembly of God -- can offer that, too. But he prefers action to words, showing the power of faith rather than preaching it.


Down in Pueblo, the Word of Jesus Christ Church needed money for a new building. And pastor Albert Struck thought he knew exactly where to get it: by auctioning off a 1986 Honda Accord that had been donated to the church. Normally, a 1986 Accord won't bring that much cash on eBay -- but this car had a critical extra. It had been driven, and donated, by the murderous Texas Seven while they hid out in Colorado two years ago. With the car came a note: "May God bless you the way he has blessed us."
Down in Pueblo, the Word of Jesus Christ Church needed money for a new building. And pastor Albert Struck thought he knew exactly where to get it: by auctioning off a 1986 Honda Accord that had been donated to the church. Normally, a 1986 Accord won't bring that much cash on eBay -- but this car had a critical extra. It had been driven, and donated, by the murderous Texas Seven while they hid out in Colorado two years ago. With the car came a note: "May God bless you the way he has blessed us."


Best Of Denver®

Best Of