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The Rocky Mountain News throws one heck of a migil

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The mood at last night's Rocky Mountain News candlelight migil (half march, half vigil --- so coined, in the tradition of the Martin Luther King Day Marade, by someone cleverer than me) was light. Although the details of the event hinted at the possibility of theatrics, the actual gathering felt more like a class reunion with a cause.

An estimated 300 current and former Rocky staffers, readers and history buffs -- including a few in costume -- started at the Denver Press Club at 1330 Glenarm Place and walked to the building the Rocky shares with the Denver Post at 101 W. Colfax. Many participants wore numbered placards representing the 150 years the Rocky has been in business and buttons that said "I Want My Rocky," a reference to a website started by staffers after the paper's parent company, E.W. Scripps, put it up for sale.

The participants strolled in small groups, their plan to walk single-file and in order by year thwarted by pesky stop lights and walk signals. Arriving at the Rocky building piecemeal, with local historian Tom Noel -- in costume as Rocky founder William Byers -- leading the pack, they stood around, chatting with each other and the dozen or so TV news camera operators and reporters covering the event. Those interviewed tended to mention the benefits of a two-paper town and "the lifeblood of the community."

At one point, participants representing the 1860s, who were dutifully trying to assemble in order, broke out into song: "Aaaaall we are saaaaayiiiiing, is give News a chance." They stopped after about six refrains because no one could remember the rest of the words. Later, event organizers led people in chanting, "Save our Rocky!"

Once most of the 300 migil-ers had arrived, Tom Noel lit the first candle -- with some difficulty because of the wind. Someone made a joke about non-smokers and then second-in-line Rocky columnist Gary Massaro passed the flame. It made its way down the line, which stretched from one end of the building to the other, haltingly and maybe not quite silently but with symbolic intent.

All in all, it seemed to be a successful migil. Which is something you can't say every day.

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