Ryan Van Duzer thought it'd be a lot of fun to bring back the Boulder Mall Crawl -- so he and a friend, Jonathan Sackheim, put up a Facebook page a year ago urging people to gather on the Pearl Street Mall on Halloween and get into the spirit of an event that was halted in 1991 because authorities and business owners felt it had grown too unruly. Then, last month, the Colorado Daily and Boulder Daily Camera published an article about the idea -- one absolutely despised by the Boulder Police Department and other community leaders. This blog shares their version of a meeting with Van Duzer expressing concern about the Crawl. His take, shared while on the road in Texas earlier today, is considerably different.
"I heard a loud knock on my door -- a lot louder than the usual UPS-man knock," he says about the Wednesday chat. "I was like, what the hell is going on?"
Van Duzer didn't respond immediately: "I waited to see if it was the UPS man, but then they laid into the doorbell. I thought, whoever's at the door really wants to talk to me. So I answer the door, and it's Chief [Mark] Beckner and the deputy chief [Greg Testa]. They said, 'We're looking for Ryan.'"
The conversation that followed was considerably less confrontational that the door pounding caused him to expect, Van Duzer concedes. "They were totally fine. They weren't out of line when we were talking. They pretty much just wanted me to stop promoting the Mall Crawl. They were worried it would get back to the days of the late '80s. So I said, 'Okay, I'll stop.'"
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Not that he was doing much to hype things in the first place. "I was never actively organizing anything," he says. "All we did was make a Facebook group to see if we could get a buzz going. I thought it could be more of a fun thing, where people shared stories and things like that. But I was never going to be out there with a bullhorn rounding up the troops. Not even close. I mean, Halloween's kind of an adult celebration now, and I was out there last year, and there were thousands of people in costume and I thought, this has great energy. But we never wanted to destroy Pearl Street. I was born and raised in Boulder and I love my town. I don't want anything bad to happen to it. I just love community events where people come out and have some fun."
In Van Duzer's view, Beckner and Testa's pretext of giving him information about how to apply for a permit was "kind of a joke. There's no chance I could get a permit for something like that." Still, he doesn't feel as if the police blackmailed him into cooperating. "The only problem I had was with them showing up at the door," he maintains. "That was a little heavy-handed. Everybody knows me in Boulder. They could have easily found me and given me a call. But instead, they showed up out of nowhere. And what would you think if you saw cops showing up at your neighbor's house? It was a little unsettling."
Will Van Duzer go to Pearl Street on Halloween? "That's the funny part," he says. "Actually, I'm going to be in New York City getting ready for the marathon the next day, so I won't even be there. That's how much involvement I have with this."
Take note of that, Chief Beckner. If things go awry on Halloween and you want to drop in on Van Duzer and talk about it, no one will be home.