The traditional smoke cloud rises over Civic Center Park at 4:20 p.m. in downtown Denver on April 20, 2016. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

The Denver 4/20 scene: Kicking back at a mellow 2016 celebration

April 20 fairly subdued in the Mile High as compared to other marijuana holiday celebrations past

Updated April 20, 2016 at 6:34 p.m.

Thousands — mostly young adults — gathered Wednesday in Denver’s Civic Center Park to light up in celebration of 4/20, although the crowd was smaller than previous years.

People gathered in groups, among friends, some meeting new friends, all ready to smoke marijuana when the clock strikes 4:20 p.m.

At 4:20 p.m. the crowd counted down “4,3,2,1” like its was New Year’s Eve. There was a collective shout, followed by a gigantic smoke plume. In short order, several celebrants began to cough.

Clay Fisher, 27, flew in from his hometown, Charleston, S.C., with his wife, Carrie, who is celebrating her 24th birthday on Wednesday.

Clay Fisher used a small plastic dispenser to apply a marijuana concentrate wax to a tight, perfectly rolled joint.

The marijuana, along with the wax, was purchased in Denver.

“Everything is local except me,” Clay Fisher said, flashing a smile.

denver 420 civic center park april 20 2016
The traditional smoke cloud rises over Civic Center Park at 4:20 p.m. in downtown Denver on April 20, 2016. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

They were joined by their friend, Jessica Trail, 23, also from South Carolina.

The trio said they’ve been having a great time in Denver, attending a Colorado Rockies game and exploring different parts of the city.

They’re already planning a return trip next year.

“We’re definitely coming back,” Carrie Fisher said.

Merchants were among the crowd, selling everything from water — to prevent “cottonmouth, ” according to the salesman’s sign — to baseball caps, beads and trinkets.

Also visible in the throng were Denver police officers.

Officers on foot, bicycles, Segways and motorcycles patrolled Civic Center.

Near the Seal Pond, just off West Colfax Avenue and 15th Street, several officers had placed a young man in handcuffs, while they questioned him apparently in anticipation of an arrest.

Meanwhile, the happy crowd streamed by awaiting the magic, smoky moment.

There is no organized event in Civic Center, but a handful of events — including a Snoop Dogg concert — are scheduled to mark to the occasion.

The Colorado Department of Transportation staged a “slow-speed chase” in two Denver locations to highlight the laws and penalties of driving while under the influence of pot.

The first was from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. around Civic Center.

The second will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Fidder’s Green Ampitheater in Greenwood Village where Snoop Dogg is set to perform later in the day.

The slow-speed chase included two vehicles — one that looks like a patrol car and the other wrapped in bright marijuana leaf designs — that will display messages about the dangers and consequences of driving while high, CODT says.

Snoop will join other artists onstage at Fiddler’s Green for the third annual Merry Jane Wellness Retreat.

Organizers of Denver’s 420 Rally that was canceled Saturday due to the weather on Wednesday will announce a process for those who bought tickets to get refunds, said Santino Walter, an organizer.

The annual smoke-out, usually held in Civic Center, still is being rescheduled and could be in a different venue.

Denver 4/20 at Civic Center Park
Denver Police escort a man away from the annual 420 gathering at Civic Center Park on April 20, 2016. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

For the first time in years, it will be business as usual on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus for April 20.

No police tape. No fishy smelling fertilizer. No concerts.

And definitely no massive crowd of people toking up at 4:20 p.m. on Norlin Quad, CU officials hope.

Campus administrators believe they have permanently snuffed the once-annual pot gathering, which at its peak drew some 10,000 people to the Norlin lawn and landed CU at the top of Playboy’s party school list.

The campus is, however, hosting a Cannabis Symposium put on by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Cultural Events Board.

The University of Denver’s campus safety officer warned students in a tweet Wednesday that over-consumption of any marijuana product should be considered a medical emergency.

The Daily Camera contributed to this report.

Photos: Celebrating 4/20 in Denver

This story was first published on DenverPost.com