Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Denver boot puts the lock on the Global Business Travel Association bash

Denver is renowned around the world for its weather, its scenery and its local institutions -- most notably the Broncos, MMJ dispensaries and the Denver boot. But was displaying one of those car-immobilizing clamps at Sunday's big tourism party really the best way to promote the city? Anticipating one of Denver's biggest tourism weeks ever, evoking memories of the crush that accompanied the Democratic National Convention three years ago, Denver and Visit Denver, the metro Denver convention and visitors' bureau, threw a bash Sunday night for the 6,000 people here for the Global Business Travel Association, filling the Denver Performing Arts Complex with music, food... and one trailer clamped by a boot, as shown above.

Turns out that the boot was put there not because the owner hadn't paid parking tickets -- the city generally doesn't boot vehicles on Sundays, according to the Denver Department of Public Works, which oversees the process. Instead, the owner simply wanted to make sure that the pricy piece of equipment wasn't stolen while the party was being prepped, as a trailer bearing a mobile billboard for CDOT's new Drugged Driving campaign was on Friday. And the Denver boot, which Frank Marrugg invented back in 1953 and was soon being used in cities around the world, is very effective at keeping vehicles in their place.

And for anyone watching the festivities, it was also an excellent reminder of why drivers around the globe curse Denver's name.

Here's the full release outlining this week's events sent yesterday by Visit Denver. You'll get a boot out of it -- or at least fair warning of upcoming parking challenges. Just remember, the city does not generally boot cars on Sundays...

Denver to Have Busy Week for Conventions

Two Conventions and USA Pro Cycling Challenge to Give Denver DNC-like Buzz & Business

DENVER, CO -- August 22, 2011 -- Denver will have one of its busiest convention weeks since the Democratic National Convention, August 20 through September 1, with two major convention groups and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge all hitting town at the same time. The two groups will generate $39 million in spending, while the bike race will bring an estimated 50,000 spectators downtown and produce two hours of live national television coverage on NBC, as well as worldwide coverage to more than 160 countries.

First up is the Global Business Travel Association, August 21-24 with 6,000 business travel executives, travel media, destination marketing representatives and service suppliers. "This convention will spend an estimated $12 million in Denver, but more important, the meeting includes thousands of corporate travel managers and travel service providers who together direct where more than $200 billion of business travel expenditures will be made," states Richard Scharf, president & CEO for VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Having them in Denver is a great opportunity for us to showcase Denver as a business travel and meeting destination to these very influential travel planners, who have the ability to bring millions of future dollars to our city," Scharf said. VISIT DENVER hosted an opening night reception at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on August 19 and private corporate parties will be held throughout Denver all week.

Next up is the $26.8 million American Chemical Society (ACS) with 12,000 people attending from August 27 to September 1. This is one of the most respected scientific meetings in the world, attracting the top chemists, chemical engineers, academics, graduate and undergraduate students and other related professionals. The meeting in the Colorado Convention Center will have more than 7,000 presentations organized into technical symposia that highlight important research advances. ACS National Meetings offer scientific professionals a platform to present, publish, discuss and exhibit the most exciting research discoveries and technologies in chemistry and its related disciplines.

Finally, the exciting conclusion to the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the most grueling bike race in American history, will take place on August 28, with a free party at Denver's Civic Center Park. The seven-day, 500-mile race across Colorado's Rocky Mountains will end with national television coverage on NBC and an estimated Denver crowd of 50,000. "This race will be a two-hour nationally televised commercial for all the beauty and recreational opportunities in Denver and Colorado, and will also be broadcast to 160 nations around the world, giving the state millions and millions of dollars of free publicity," Scharf said.

Competing in the race are some of the top professional cyclists in the world, including: all three podium finishers from this year's Tour de France: winner Cadel Evans; and the famed brothers from Luxembourg, Andy and Frank Schleck. The race will also include five former and current world champions; five current national champions; and nine 2011 Major Race Champions.

The race is expected to come down to a sprint finish with six loops throughout downtown Denver and around Civic Center Park. Spectators will cheer from a free party in the center of the park, while racers zoom by around them. Festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with concerts by local and national bands, including the Flobots, and a food truck "roundup" with nearly 20 gourmet food trucks. There will also be beer booths, bicycle demonstrations, exclusive race-day merchandise, and family activities until 4 p.m. Riders are expected to cross the finish line at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Broadway directly in front of the gold-plated dome of the Colorado State Capitol, with an awards ceremony immediately after.

Details on all road closures and alternate routes are available on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge website and at

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "William Koch buys another piece of Western history: Buckskin Joe."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun