Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

The Shrining

A few hours after news broke that Darrent Williams had been shot dead, people started leaving tributes to the Bronco at the scene of the shooting — hats, signs, cards, flowers. Keith Schrum, associate curator of manuscripts at the Colorado Historical Society, decided to take a look at the unofficial shrines on Wednesday — the day before, "I didn't have the heart for it," he says.

So he walked down Broadway past Shelter, the club where Williams had been on New Year's Eve, then turned on Tenth, then turned again and headed to corner where Williams was killed . "I was able to look at it somewhat objectively, but after a time it got to me. While I was there, a woman came up with some helium-filled balloons and a bouquet of flowers and a card," he says. "It takes your breath away."

A smaller grouping of objects had been placed in the snow in the parkway outside of PS 1 — on a city right-of-way. According to Department of Public Works spokeswoman Ann Williams, such displays are unregulated and the city won't move them, not unless they pose a safety issue to the community. And in fact, yesterday morning the larger shrine — two portions of a fence at the corner of a condo project being developed by TM Corporation -- were removed from that location and merged with the smaller shrine in a more formal presentation on the parkway.

Could it become more formal still? The Colorado Historical Society archived many of the items left at on the mammoth shrines outside of Columbine High School -- "that was the only one I've had my hand in in the fifteen years I've been here," Schrum says. As for creating a new collection, "once we get past the raw emotion and the connection to the person and the event, we must look at some of the real world issues," he notes. "Who owns this material now, for example."

And more immediately, whether any of it will survive the current snowstorm. Shrine on. — Patricia Calhoun

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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