Cinco de Mayo runs overtime for partiers -- and Denver cops

When Cinco de Mayo falls during the middle of the week, as it does this year (it's next Wednesday), people interested in marking the date have four main options: Celebrate the weekend before, celebrate on May 5, celebrate the weekend after, or celebrate every chance they get.

With that in mind, says Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson, the DPD is ready to enforce a Federal Boulevard traffic strategy this weekend, May 1-2, as well as on May 5 and next weekend, May 8-9, when the official Civic Center commemoration takes place.

This challenge is nothing new, Jackson notes. "It was on Tuesday last year," he points out, "and we ended up having to be ready on both weekends."

In 2009, however, "the weather was a little suspect, and we didn't have to do all the closures," he continues. "And based on what we're hearing about the weather this weekend, we may not have to put the whole traffic plan into effect, either."

Still, the DPD will be ready with its complete three-phase plan, which includes the use of traffic barriers and the potential closure of Federal segments, just in case the Saturday and Sunday forecast for cooler temperatures and rain is inaccurate. "It does take a lot of manpower," Jackson acknowledges, "but you have to do what you have to do to ensure public safety."

Get the details below:

Cinco de Mayo Community Notification 2010

The Cinco de Mayo holiday will soon be upon us. Each year, metro area residents and visitors from adjoining states come to Denver to take part in one of the nation's largest celebrations, commemorating the battle that took place in the City of Puebla in Mexico in 1862. This holiday stands as a symbol of the unyielding spirit and quest for freedom of Mexican citizens from an oppressive invader. This holiday was first celebrated in the City of Puebla only. Latinos across our great nation have embraced this Mexican Holiday, making it their own. Latinos and non-Latinos alike take great pride in celebrating Mexican culture and history.

The City and County of Denver hosts many different events related to this holiday. Each year a family festival is held at Civic Center Park in downtown Denver. The event is among the three largest festivals held in the United States. The family festival typically attracts in upwards of 400,000 people. This year the Civic Center event will be on May 8th, and 9th.

A byproduct of this annual celebration has been spontaneous cruising along Federal Blvd. involving both metro area residents and out of state visitors. The sudden influx of vehicles and people has resulted in a severe disruption to normal traffic patterns.

The Denver Police Department Administration and the District One and Four Command staff have met with both public and private entities, planning for this celebration. The result of these meetings has been the creation of a traffic plan that officials believe will maximize safety, relieve traffic congestion and minimize the negative impact of the increased traffic and noise on neighborhoods.

Traffic will be allowed to cross Federal Boulevard freely until traffic congestion increases. Once this occurs east/west traffic across Federal Boulevard will be restricted to major intersections: Evans Ave, Jewell Ave, Florida Ave, Mississippi Ave, Alameda Ave, US-6, W. 10th Ave, and major intersections north of W. 20th Avenue.

The proposed traffic plan will operate in three phases:

• Phase One will permit traffic flow along Federal Blvd. Police personnel will be staffing static posts along Federal Blvd. Side streets will not be barricaded during this phase.

• Phase Two will be implemented as the number of celebrants/cruisers increase. Police personnel will utilize traffic barricades to restrict access to side streets along the Federal Blvd. The objective will be to minimize the impact on the residents that live along the Federal Blvd corridor.

• Phase Three will be implemented if the traffic volume reaches levels that prevent normal traffic flow, and become unsafe to the residents, participants, and service personnel. During Phase Three, a portion of the traffic will be diverted from portions of Federal Blvd. until such time as the traffic volume becomes normalized. Various diversion routes have been selected and the volume of traffic will determine which location will be utilized.

Access to side streets will be limited to neighborhood residents only once barricades are in place. Residents requiring access should contact the officer on post, if an officer is engaged in taking a police action; residents should proceed to the next staffed or open intersection.

Any violations which pose a safety risk will be strictly enforced. Police personnel will enforce traffic ordinances along the Federal Blvd. corridor including sound ordinance violations, both from stereos and excessive horn honking. The city juvenile curfew ordinance will be enforced. Celebrants that are less than 18 years of age will be subject to curfew enforcement beginning at midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11pm on Sunday and Wednesday.

This year we anticipate heavy traffic on Federal Boulevard on May 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th.

The Denver Police Department looks forward to another successful and safe holiday celebration.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts