Bravo, Denver

August 28 2008, 10:15 PM

Thursday afternoon offered a lesson in that lesser-known physics axiom: The longest distance between two points is an incredibly crooked line. Around 2:30, I parked my car near my Highlands home--for free, on the street, despite some misguided dude offering $20 spots several blocks farther from Invesco--and walked down Bryant and Clay streets, arriving at the north gate of the stadium within 15 minutes, close enough to drill the field's façade with a spiral.

Okay, I couldn't actually do that. (BUT JOHN ELWAY TOTALLY COULD, BRO!)

Almost an hour and about two miles later, I finally got inside. The security perimeter around Invesco was so broad that I had to segue over to Federal and back toward the processional that snaked along the stadium lot, bending and twisting like an amusement park queue run amok. I did save some time by skirting part of the line with several flashes of my press pass. (Sorry, fellow citizens, but them's the perks.) Once inside, rumors circulated that some folks were standing in line for close to four hours to to get into the historic event.

Honestly, this is the closest thing to a complaint I heard all week. As the DNC approached, locals and outsiders fretted that this sleepy little burg would be ill prepared for such a bum rush of delegates, security, and media, and that a bigger, "realer," more experienced city would've been the wiser choice.

Yes, fighting pedestrian traffic on the 16th Street mall sometimes mirrored the worst qualities of overcrowded Manhattan, but that was a good thing. The people-watching was first rate, with every ilk on display, from random oddballs to Katie Couric. Yes, a huge chunk of downtown was blocked off, but the DNC committee's commitment to greening up the week kept auto traffic to a minimum. And concerns about mass protests went almost entirely unrealized; the vast majority of the sirens we heard were from motorcades clearing the way for their precious cargo. In fact, much of the heaviest congestion came from out-of-towners making foolish attempts to drive through LoDo. Lousy hicks.

What made convention week such a rousing success were the people. Our people. Whether it was menacingly armored police from in and around Denver, yellow-shirted volunteer guides, street vendors, stadium staff--even employees of downtown businesses unaffiliated with the convention who just happened to be standing outside when someone had a question--every single person I encountered politely and earnestly did their best to be helpful, informative, and completely professional. In a week when the Democratic Party's theme centered on unity, Denverites showed everyone how to get on the same page.