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Endless Summer

A letter from the editor of our July 2015 issue.

—Jeff Nelson Photography

Years ago I took a ski vacation to Utah (heresy, I know) with my wife, and I’ll never forget what I overheard an older gentleman say during lunch one sunny afternoon. “I moved here for the winter,” he said, “but I stayed for the summer.” I was reminded of this notion just last night: Gray skies, rain, and hail may have delayed the onset of summer this year, but as I write this in early June, it appears the long, warm, sunshine-filled days have finally arrived in Denver. Daylight stretches until well past 8 p.m., school has let out, and evenings on our block near Wash Park are filled with kids riding bikes and tossing baseballs and sharing stories from their day camps. It all sounds so Rockwellian—and in a way, it is. That’s the thing about Denver: Those of us who reside here know how fortunate we are to live in the city and have access to the amenities that entails; at the same time, we’re able to enjoy the pleasures of small-town life in our urban neighborhoods.

This happy dichotomy is on full display in this month’s cover package, our 19th installment of “Top Of The Town” (page 73), which celebrates the best of the Mile High City. In this edition, 5280 editors’ picks—and our readers’ choices—document a city that is growing quickly and becoming a destination for millennials and retirees alike. In this feature, you’ll find classics like Curious Theatre and El Taco De Mexico, but you’ll also find new ventures, such as Amethyst Coffee Company and the Cooper Lounge, which showcase the increasingly diverse, creative, entrepreneurial, and international city Denver is becoming. We hope you’ll take some time during the gorgeous summer months here to experience the amazing places, people, and things our team has compiled.

But there is much more to this issue than “Top Of The Town.” This year, we decided to complement our best-of list with a host of other stories, so whether you’re looking for a new hot spot for dinner or you want a lean-back narrative to read while you lounge in your hammock on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you’ll find it in this issue. On page 94, food editor Amanda M. Faison tells the tale of two engineers making potato vodka—a rarity in this country—outside of Aspen (“The Potato Kings”). Senior staff writer Robert Sanchez spent time with freshman U.S. Senator Cory Gardner this past spring in an effort to figure out just exactly what the telegenic Republican stands for. His illuminating profile, “Will The Real Cory Gardner Please Stand Up?” (page 118), details the politician’s Eastern Plains upbringing and the campaign that could be a model for Republicans going forward. And senior editor Kasey Cordell penned a poignant tribute to Navy SEAL and Colorado native Danny Dietz (“A Warrior’s Creed,” page 102), who died in Afghanistan 10 years ago this summer and was one of the SEALs memorialized in the recent Hollywood hit Lone Survivor.

Of course, these are just a few of the stories in this issue. All told, there are 100 pages chock-full of fabulous pieces to keep your eyes and mind busy while your body relaxes on idle summer afternoons. Happy reading.

This article was originally published in 5280 July 2015.

Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke

Geoff Van Dyke is the editorial director of 5280 Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffVanDyke

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Endless Summer

School is back in session, but summer’s not reeeeally over till the garden gates close—Elitch Gardens, that is. For most of Denver’s history, the theme park has topped many a 10-year-old’s to-do list—even a young Chauncey Billups eagerly awaited summertime tickets to Elitch’s when he was growing up in Park Hill. • This year, as Elitch’s celebrates its 120th anniversary, the oldest amusement park west of the Mississippi is renewing efforts to get back to its community roots. Its original site at 38th and Tennyson housed Denver’s first movie theater, zoo, and symphony orchestra. The 62-acre park relocated to its current site in 1995 and became a cornerstone of LoDo’s revitalization, but corporatization under the Six Flags umbrella obscured the park’s family values. • Under new management since 2007, Elitch’s is rebuilding its community relations by partnering with organizations such as the Denver Public Library. Thousands of kids participating in DPL’s summer reading program received park day-passes this season, as did 25 underprivileged children served by the Chauncey Billups Foundation. And, so, tradition continues.