Today, January 22, has been named Orange Friday in the City and County of Denver by Mayor Michael Hancock, with a fan rally at noon in Larimer Square, all in honor of the Broncos' AFC championship game on Sunday. Not only are residents invited to deck themselves out in their best orange duds (which, aside from football jerseys and the occasional Halloween-themed shirt, might be tough to come by), but buildings all over the city will be lit up in orange to celebrate.
All of which is fine — but Denver doesn't have to get gussied up and lit up for the occasion, because this city already shows its colors on a daily basis. Here's our list of ten things that unite Denver in orange 365 days a year, playoffs or not.
10. The Union Station sign
Once and again one of Denver’s signature sites, Union Station proudly proclaims itself in all its orange glory every day of the year. Sure, the building will be lit up in orange-on-orange this weekend in honor of the home team, but on any day you're downtown, you can look up and appreciate the glow — and the fact that this historic building is still around to be seen. It's gone through a number of changes through the years, many of which Westword has covered, and has definitely come a long way since it opened in 1881.
9. Ska Brewing’s Modus Mandarina
Denver is a city that loves its beer, especially brews made by Colorado breweries. This IPA from Ska Brewing out of Durango captures the essence of orange — the fruit, in this case, if not the color — which makes it a good gulp for Orange Friday, as well as pretty much any day of porch-sitting with the beautiful redhead of your choice.
8. Construction zone cones
Okay, so these aren’t unique to Denver — but they’re definitely ubiquitous to in any Denverite’s drives. Just about every intersection in Denver boasts these little beauties, along with the (also orange) warning signs to slow down or merge because of a closed lane ahead. Yes, they’re super-helpful to make us aware of traffic irregularities, and they keep us safe. And yes, we still hate them. Who says everything orange has to be positive?
7. Wild Chipmunk sign, Lakeside Amusement Park
When was the last time you checked out Lakeside? It’s like going back in time, and the signage is a big part of its remaining retro charm. If it’s been a while since you’ve enjoyed the Wild Chipmunk — or if you’ve never had the pleasure — you owe yourself. After all, Lakeside is one of Denver's historic gems, with plenty of hidden secrets. Although the park is closed for the season right now, once it opens around Memorial Day, you can head over to the Northside and return to a simpler time. Treat yourself to an Orange Crush after the ride. (But only after — it’s orange coming back up, too.)
6. “Lao Tzu” at Acoma Plaza
Nestled between the Main Branch of the Denver Public Library and the Denver Art Museum is this sixteen-ton orange-girdered piece of public art by Mark di Suvero. Reminiscent of a ridiculously proportioned set of Tinkertoys (we mean that in the best possible sense), the sculpture has welcomed visitors to both city institutions since its installation in 1996, when Westword happily reported on its addition to the Denver landscape. Honorable mention for orangey public art, by the way, goes to “National Velvet,” John McEnroe’s flabby-sack pillar at the city-side of the Highland Bridge. Sure, it looks very red during the day — but at night, all lit up? Pure orange, baby.
5. Agent Orange marijuana
Hey, it’s Denver, Colorado, and no list is complete without a cannabis reference.
4. The Neon Base Runner on the side of Coors Field
Of all the gorgeous and striking things that Denver has to offer visitors — the mountains to the west, the rambunctious 16th Street Mall, the grandeur of Red Rocks Amphitheater, the historic Tivoli Brewery on the Auraria campus or the dirty charm of Colfax — the thing that most people I’ve shown around remember from their tour is this neon action scene on the side of Coors Field. Which makes sense: It’s pretty damn cool.
3. Overtanned folks in Cherry Creek North
Not to pick on Cherry Creek North, but seriously, the sidewalks in this place are crammed with people who’ve clearly overused the tanning creams. It’s unclear if it’s just that none of these people have mirrors, or if their idols are Donald Trump and John Boehner, or if they’re just such superfans of the Broncos that they spend the entire year slathered in orange. But for whatever reason, Denver is a city with oompa-loompas, and that’s one orange distinction we could all live without.
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2. The Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel
Granted, the lighting can sometimes head into a blue funk, but the murals on the walls are always orange in hue, and that helps cast a similar hue over the room. Another of Denver’s most amazing spots, the Cruise Room is perhaps the Mile High City’s best place to get a martini — with a slice of orange to garnish, old sport.
1. Sunsets…and the bumper stickers about them
“If God’s not a Broncos fan, then why are sunsets orange?” That’s the question posed by far too many Denver truck bumpers (double points if the sticker's on a Ford Bronco). That's infallible logic, really, so long as you don’t think too hard. Still, it’s hard to dispute the beauty of those orange skies early in the morning or late in the evening. The sight is nearly as breathtaking as beating Tom Brady and the Patriots, at home, to win the AFC.