Colorado made news in 2008, and we're not talking about Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for president. Nosirree. Even bigger news! John and Patsy Ramsey were officially cleared in the 1996 death of their daughter, JonBenét. Of course, you might have missed that if you were paying too much attention to the possibility, and eventual reality, of Sunday liquor sales, which riveted the city for months, or to "believer" Jeff Peckman's effort to create a UFO task force in Denver.
But if the Rocky Mountain News, which went up for sale in December, is shut down, you'll probably miss a lot more news next year. So it's a good thing that Denver tied up some loose ends in 2008, everything from murders (like the Ramsey, Susannah Chase, Tim Masters and Darrent Williams cases); to political careers (like those of Doug Bruce and Wayne Allard); to the future of Coors, which merged with Miller. Even the Denver Archdiocese of the Catholic Church settled eighteen sexual-assault cases (for $5.5 million) — at least until new charges came up a few months later.
But it was the Democratic National Convention that made the biggest headlines — from loud talk and small walks by various protesters to a near-ban on fried food at what was supposed to be the greenest convention ever. In the run-up to the DNC, politically crazed locals were using the word "caucus" as a verb, a noun and sometimes an adjective, and the city reached new heights during Barack Obama's historic speech at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Then the bottom fell out of the economy faster than a sinkhole on I-25. From gas prices to airline layoffs, baggage fees and home foreclosures, Denver celebrated its 150th anniversary with the same recession cake that the rest of the country ate.
And now that Obama is set to take office this month — with Senator Ken Salazar as his pick for Secretary of Interior — he'll need a lot more than the audacity of hope (and a few tacos from Jorge's Sombrero in Pueblo) to get 2009 started in the right direction.
Maybe it's Tim McGraw, maybe it's just some hot honky-tonk. Whatever the reason, health officials in Mesa County noted that pregnancies triple there every July, shortly after Country Jam, a music festival that nurse Wanda Scott called "our Grand Junction Woodstock." Scott told county commissioners that she typically sees 25 to 30 pregnancies a month, but after the festival, the number rises to about 80. Country Jam director Steve Berg told the Associated Press that there was little he could do. "I certainly can't stop them from having sex," he said. "If we could stop it, we certainly would."
It's hard making the transition from child actress to adult, as Susan Olsen, who played cute little Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch, proved so graphically when she had to run from a live radio show to barf in the bathroom. Olsen, 46, was in Colorado Springs to perform at a comedy club when she stopped by The Jet 107.9 in Colorado Springs to promote the gig; she later admitted to having drunk too much the night before.
Yes, gas got crazy expensive this past summer, and in June, a man tried to pay for a couple of gallons with a bag full of pennies. When a clerk at the Diamond Shamrock at 10th Avenue and Broadway said no because the line behind him was long, the man got pushy, so the clerk called the police. The man fled in a satellite-TV truck.
In April, Boulder police arrested Marlos Hernandez, 30, outside a memorial service and accused him of grabbing the breast of the dead woman's sister and showing her mother pornographic pictures. Hernandez later pleaded guilty to felony trespass.
An eight-year-old Colorado Springs boy suffered severe burns on his foot after he stepped on a patch of ground in a city-owned park that had heated up to around 800 degrees. Coal dust from a nearby mine may have been left in the area decades before, according to the Denver Post, and had apparently caught fire. The boy's Croc melted from the heat.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals got their claws into J.D.'s Bait Shop in Greenwood Village after the owner installed a Lobster Zone game in which a contestant pays $2 to try to hook a live lobster with a toy crane; if he succeeds, he gets a free dinner. "Incarcerating lobsters in filthy tanks inside a boisterous club, making an abusive game out of their capture, and finally boiling them to death is every bit as reprehensible as tormenting cats, dogs, or any other animal," PETA protested. But that letter — and the subsequent national media barrage — made restaurant owner Dennis McCann so mad that he refused to take the game out, saying he would consider removing it only after PETA stopped bugging him.