Before I picked up photography I would avoid events such as these like the plague, now I can’t stay away. The energy of the crowd, the diversity, that subtle feeling of tension hanging over the park like a storm cloud. Looking at Denver’s “Official 420 Rally” from an entirely A-Political perspective, it was a crowd like any other, except on this day, the area of Civic Center Park was cordoned off, and inside its boundaries cannabis was being consumed in all variety of ways by an eclectic variety of people.
Just like the “Taste of Colorado” the park is filled with a throng of humans gnawing on giant turkey legs and churros, only today most of them are washing it down with some sort of cannabis soda instead of the customary craft beer or domestic swill (Coors Light, Bud Light, Milwaukee’s Best, PBR) There was alcohol, but it was relegated to a small “bar” in a distant corner. The majority of people today were only interested in smoking weed.
There was a a heavy and very visible police presence, bolstered by a private security company and park rangers. Scaffolding was erected in the center of the park manned with armed guardsthat constantly scanned the crowd with binoculars. Park rangers on bicycles could also be seen buzzing in and out of the crowd. At least one drone was being flown over the festivities, and the entire outer perimeter of the park was surrounded by a layer of black fences. Helicopters periodically flew overhead and I saw one land on the roof of a nearby building. Just beyond the perimeter of the fence along Broadway officers from the Denver Police Department congregated in a display of authority. They don’t usually smile when I take their picture, but I do it anyway.
This event is no place for children, although a small percentage of people with questionable judgement brought their children along. I ran across a mother pushing a child through the hazy smoked filled park, the kid literally looked green to me. There is a brashness to this event that one can’t ignore. The crowd swelled as the clock drew nearer to 4:20 on Easter Sunday. The cloud of smoke hovering over the crowd thickened as they counted down the minutes to the collective exhale. Marijuana is a part of the mainstream culture in Denver now more than ever. There is almost literally a pot shop on every corner, and it is not uncommon to catch a strong hint of the ganja as you are driving around town in your car.
The rally went off without a hitch in my opinion, except for the overwhelming sense of unease I felt with the extremely heightened security presence which is more of a personal thing. If I wasn’t taking pictures, I wouldn’t be here. These are the people that I observed.