Why isn't the Denver Police Department clearing out this urban encampment? Well, for one thing, these folks are camping in Glendale, not Denver, and for another, they're on private property. That parking lot belongs to a brand-new Chick-Fil-A that's about to hatch at 430 South Colorado Boulevard, right next door to Shotgun Willie's, a Fascinations adult superstore and the Smokin' Gun cannabis dispensary. And Chick-Fil-A is giving away a year's worth of chicken to 100 of those determined campers.
Here's how it works: Campers began showing up at 6 a.m. this morning and received numbered wrist bands. Although you have to be at least eighteen to be eligible, some people brought their kids for the free sandwiches and cookies that will be given away tonight. But the real payoff happens tomorrow, November 10, when those who made it through the night will be rewarded with a gift card for a free meal a week for 52 weeks — a $250 value. The catch is that once braceleted, campers can't leave the property, or they're disqualified. And Chick-Fil-A has a few extra wristbands for latecomers who can replace any dropouts. (At about 2:30 p.m. today, far fewer than 100 wristbands had been distributed — which means there may still be room for you and your family!)
Of those in the parking lot — hanging out in camping chairs, playing yard games, working on laptops or napping in the sun — many said they had taken a day off from work or school to be there. Some said that this wasn't the first Chick-Fil-A grand opening that they'd been to, and one group said they'd already scored the same prize at three different openings in Colorado and as far away as Iowa. Call them Chick-Fil-A Dead (Chicken) Heads — or something like that.
Because of the cross-country grand-opening followers, the restaurant chain changed its rules and campers must now provide proof that they live within specific zip codes in order to be eligible for the giveaway. Because this Glendale location is so central, though quite a few metro Denver zip codes were included.
Retail business makes strange bedfellows; while Chick-Fil-A has made news in recent years over corporate comments regarding the company's opposition to same-sex marriage, the owners of Shotgun Willie's and the Smokin' Gun are related to Glendale mayor and former gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunafon (wife and daughter-in-law, respectively). But despite the close proximity of such disparate businesses and the moodiness of Denverites after last night's election results, nobody waiting for a taste of fried chicken sandwiches seemed to be getting their feathers ruffled.