Best Skatepark 2008 | Pioneer Park | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Skateboarders weren't expecting much from Commerce City when it announced plans to build a new concrete skatepark. After all, bigger metro-area cities have consistently blown good intentions (and public funds) by relying on non-skateboarding landscape architects who produced designs that functioned better in CAD than in real life. Fortunately, Commerce City went with top-notch skater design/build outfit California Skateparks, and when the free outdoor facility opened last fall, it became one of the best on the Front Range. Most notable in the park's 20,000 square feet is a clover-shaped bowl attached to a massive, twenty-foot-tall capsule. Street skaters are offered a plaza-style section with stairs, rails and ledges, all capped with grind-easy angle iron. Though the circular layout seems more about overhead aesthetics than a coherent flow pattern, it's totally sick compared to the one at Green Valley Ranch.
Season ski passes are only as good as you make them. You have to use them to get your money's worth, and the newest mountain pass is no exception. At first it might seem silly for someone in Denver to consider buying a season pass to Monarch Mountain — nearly 140 miles away — but this is no ordinary pass. Monarch has teamed up with nine other resorts in three states that are "unique and off the beaten path." Thus, a $399 season pass to Monarch comes with three days each at Crested Butte, Loveland, Durango, Sunlight, Powderhorn and New Mexico's Angel Fire and Pajarito, as well as half-price tickets at Alta, in Utah, and one day in the steep-and-deep extremes of Silverton Mountain. It's the perfect package for an epic road trip. And if those plans crumble, the pass won't be a total loss: Monarch's only twenty miles farther than Vail, and you don't have to deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-70.
Pitcher Jason Jennings is no longer a member of the Colorado Rockies — he's currently hurling for the Texas Rangers — but he left behind a tremendous gift for baseball fans facing physical challenges. The Jason Jennings Sports Made Possible Field features rubberized surfaces that allow disabled children and adults, including those who get around using wheelchairs, to play baseball with the assistance of helpers from the non-profit Sports Made Possible. No matter what the final score, participants and volunteers alike leave feeling like winners.
Drew Goodman has been a reliable play-by-play man for ages, but he really proved his value during the Colorado Rockies' 2007 season. When the team started off poorly, he kept things in perspective without ever turning into a paid apologist — a skill he honed as a witness to years of Rockies ineptitude. And he maintained this same admirable balance once the tide began turning, properly reflecting the enthusiasm this unexpected twist engendered even as he resisted the temptation to root like an out-of-control fan. Goodman's professionalism is a real asset, whether he's calling contests by a cellar-dweller or a World Series combatant.
In baseball, they call it "strength up the middle." The term refers to a team whose second baseman/shortstop combo gains a reputation for vacuuming up everything that comes its way. And last season, the Colorado Rockies were strong up the middle and everywhere else, making .98925 percent of their plays given 6,326 total chances. In fact, the Rockies made history as the best fielding team ever, beating out the 2006 Boston Red Sox, who racked up a .9891 fielding percentage. A bittersweet prize considering they lost to the Sox in the World Series, but one worth remembering.
The Falcons seemed sure to take a dip in 2007 thanks to turmoil at the top: Fisher DeBerry, who made headlines two years earlier after suggesting that a bowl-game loss could be traced to AFA's dearth of "Afro-American players," stepped down before the season started, ending a 23-year run as head coach. But Academy grad Troy Calhoun, who'd coached in the NFL for the Broncos and the Houston Texans, came home and immediately set things on the right path. In the end, gutsy signal-caller Shaun Carney guided his squadron to a totally unexpected 9-3 record and an appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl, which the team might've won had the QB not gone down with a knee injury. With Calhoun back for a second season, the Falcons' outlook is sky-high.
Could it be anything else? Early in the 2007 campaign, after the Rox lost a series to the woeful Kansas City Royals (at home, no less), at least one website demanded that owners Charlie and Dick Monfort sell the franchise to someone who might actually invest in making the team better. But then something funny happened: The Rockies' talented young nucleus of Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki and others began living up to their potential, then exceeding it. As a result of the slow start, the Rockies needed a miracle to reach the World Series, and they got one: a stretch of 21 victories in 22 games. Granted, this fairy tale didn't have a happy ending; it was as if Cinderella tried on the glass slipper and accidentally amputated several toes. But the core Rockies are back, and so is the suddenly realistic prospect of even better things to come.

Best Sunday Afternoon Bike Ride Destination

Heron Pond

Tucked behind an old water-treatment plant (now Northside Park) and a recycling plant, quiet Heron Pond is the perfect place for solitude and stellar bird watching. Located on the South Platte River Greenway going north from downtown, the park is home to a huge variety of birds, including herons, avocets, kingfishers and red-tail hawks, as well as numerous kinds of water fowl. And because it's so quiet here, they aren't likely to be scared away by a dog let loose by an inconsiderate condo-dweller. There may be more scenic rides around town, but when it comes to Sunday solitude, Heron Pond soars above the rest.
The story goes like this: Rocco was a French pilgrim who traveled around northern Italy during the Middle Ages, risking plague-ridden towns to care for the ill. He eventually became the patron saint of pestilence, and the Potenza Lodge has honored him annually for more than sixty years at the three-day Feast of St. Rocco festival. Modern-day patrons can take part in games of chance as well as near-continuous raffles for home-baked cakes, salami, capicola and provolone. Attendees also vie for cash prizes at booths featuring pickle cards and an old carnival-style Big Six wheel. Both games have a house edge that would make the casinos in Black Hawk drool. But after a few pizzelles, Italian sausage sandwiches and cheap Coors Lights, a little risk in the name of pestilence doesn't seem so bad.
A good night of trick or treating requires several things: closely-spaced homes that cut down on walking and result in more candy gained; good lighting, but not too good; some large, well-decorated spooky houses; a safe neighborhood; and, most important, wealthy homeowners who give out the good stuff. While there are plenty of areas that combine these elements in Denver, Seventh Avenue Parkway has them all and more. Just ask the vanloads of kids from other neighborhoods who swoop down each October 31 like vampire bats and then disappear in the ghoulish night.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of