Parade of Hams

Boy howdy, you can learn a lot about rich people by touring this year's Parade of Homes, located on the cusp of Aurora and Kansas. At least, you can learn a lot about what the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver and its architects, designers, spa dealers, kitchen-and-bath hustlers, furniture tycoons and assorted provenders think that rich people want. Here's what this year's display of garish excess reveals:

1. Rich people are very concerned about the environment. These are "green" homes, made with recycled materials and built-in energy efficiencies, so you can fire up the multiple gas grills and gas fireplaces, the hot tub (on the third floor of the gazebo!) and Sub Zero wine cellar, the multiple fridges and big-screen TVs and home theaters, without a twinge of guilt.

2. Rich people are very concerned about air quality. That's why this year's homes feature ventilation systems that "play by the rules of good building science," so we can all breathe a sigh of relief while firing up the SUVs in the three-car garage so that Mom, Dad and Nanny Jane can commute an average of 45 miles apiece across the metro sprawl. And drive they must — this year's parade homes are even further down the southeast sprawl line from Tallyn's Reach, the 2000 parade site. They're on the south shore of the Aurora Reservoir, at the corner of Smoky Hill Road and East Jesus. From there, it's a bit of a haul even to reach the outer band of civilization marked by E-470.

3. Rich people are very concerned about natural resources. The trend is toward not simply granite islands in the oversized kitchens but granite continents, the better to preserve our nation's dwindling stores of formica. Water savings come from having so many water features around the home — a swim-up bar at one home, dribbling fountains and a potential West Nile-mosquito hatchery at another, hot tubs everywhere — so that trips to Water World are no longer necessary. (No pools quite like the indoor-outdoor monstrosity found at Paul Lambert's Villa Bellagio a few years ago, darn it.) And, of course, the gigantic baths all include family-size showers, big enough for an entire soccer team. Save water! Shower with ALL your friends!

4. Rich people are very devoted to their children. Judging from the number of kiddy rooms big enough to house a set of twins or even triplets, with multiple beds and sinks and special-sized potties, the proud parents are all popping fertility drugs like mad and working like serfs to erect a virtual kingdom for their little princelings. They're even springing for private balconies and wraparound decks for the wee tykes' cavorting, so they can crash through the recycled-plastic railings and tumble into the water features below.

5. Rich people love convenience. They want their coffee bars in their bedrooms and their rec room bars stocked with acres of wine, so they can get properly soused while watching the big-screen TV above the bar before stumbling into the home theater to watch porn. From the master bedroom, they may have a long hike through the master bath just to reach the master closet (complete with salsa bar and picnic table), but it's always possible to tumble down the spiral staircase from the bath to the spa for a rubdown that will make that hike worthwhile.

6. Rich people have keenly developed imaginations. They can stand in the high-vaulted kitchen of their new parade home, close their eyes and tell themselves, "I didn't just plunk down $2.6 million for a nautically-themed, poorly executed pile of synthetic materials on a small lot at the corner of Smoky Hill and East Jesus, hemmed in by sprawl. I did not just piss away my trust fund on a big granite-stuffed kitchen and Roman bath and five teeny bedrooms and 6,200 square feet of wasted space. I am in the Hamptons, and this is my dream."

7. Rich people, or at least the Southshore Parade of Homes variety of rich people, are different from you and me. They have no taste. – Alan Prendergast

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Sean Cronin