Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

St. Patrick's Day: Dale Tooley was green before green was in

Want to give someone a quick feel for Denver? Walk the seven blocks of Wazee Street from Cherry Creek -- where Denver got its start when gold was discovered 150 years ago -- up to Coors Field, where the Rockies will start digging for gold in just a few weeks.

There's history all along the way -- especially at 17th Street today, St. Patrick's Day, where Wazee is all about the late Dale Tooley, longtime Denver District Attorney, one-time mayoral candidate and full-time Irishman.

Every year, the street sign here is changed to honor Tooley. But this time, the process was not snafu-free. Murphy's Law, maybe -- Murphy was Irish, right?

Notice of the ceremony last Thursday never went out (some communication problem with the St. Patrick's Day Parade committee, according to the Department of Public Works); McCormick's, which had held a luncheon celebration to accompany the sign-change for decades, didn't offer one this year (another communication problem with the St. Patrick's Day Parade committee, according to the restaurant); and the sign-change itself was delayed (a definite communication problem with public works, according to the parade committee).

And, in fact, someone in public works had gotten the date confused. But Mayor John Hickenlooper had faced bigger challenges that day: He'd d already had to play a ventriloquist's dummy at the Colorado Business Commission for the Arts luncheon. So he waited patiently while the sign was fetched and installed a half-hour late, and Tooley Street was back in business.

As the green tide of fun-seekers washes over LoDo today, let's hope a few people stop at that sign and salute a public servant who was truly green.

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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