A capacity crowd huddled under blankets, wearing coats, gloves and hats for sunrise Easter service at Red Rocks Amphitheater early Sunday. Ministers led the congregation through “The Lord’s Prayer” and hymns with shouts of “Christ is Risen!” and “Alleluia.”
About 14 hours later, Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg would lead a very different, but still capacity, crowd through songs such as “Young, Wild & Free” and “Smoke the Weed.”
It’s a coincidence that Superintendent Patrick L. Demmer pointed out during his sermon.
“You don’t need weed to get high if you have Jesus,” said Demmer, who is one of few African-American men to have spoken in the 67-year history of the Sunday Easter service. “When you’ve got Jesus, you don’t need anything else. I used to smoke marijuana on a regular basis, and I enjoyed it. But then I found Jesus.”
“I like the smell”
At the 4/20 rally in Civic Center, Hunter Claycomb, a sixth-grader from Thornton, sat with his parents in front of the main stage listening to the bands play. The family had arrived mid-morning after attending Easter service at church.
“It’s cool. I like the smell, the music and the people,” Hunter said.
Claycomb’s father, Troy, said they came to hear the music.
“This is good people and good music. None of the politics,” Claycomb said.
Ben Martinez, 45, flew in from Los Angeles to attend the 4/20 rally and was wandering the festival area with his brother, who lives in Denver.
“It is a historic moment,” Martinez said.
Martinez said he wasn’t worried about the possibility of the festival getting out of control even with last year’s shooting.
“These are good people, and it is a good time,” Martinez said. “If it gets too crowded, I will just leave.”
Tips or Nuggs
A line nearly two blocks long formed outside Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom just before rappers Method Man and Redman took the stage at 4:20 p.m.
Some waited more than an hour to get in. Tents selling merchandise, food and beer had been set up along the streets. Food trucks sold barbecue, vegan dishes, burgers and chips — some accepting “Tips or Nuggs” as gratuity.
Method Man and Redman were greeted by cheers and clouds of smoke inside Cervantes as the two Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated rappers took the stage. Despite signs posted throughout the venue urging fans to not smoke indoors, the two rappers told the crowd to light their joints.
A new pipe
In the vast outdoor weed fair that was part of the High Times Cannabis Cup, Cat Jordan of Colorado Springs walked among the stalls, cradling her new water pipe.
The pipe had a pink bowl piece and an illustration of a dragon. It set her back $20, “a good price,” she said. Jordan, a 22-year-old waitress, was among friends — thousands of them.
“It’s just nice to see for yourself how many of us smoke,” Jordan said, techno music blaring and the sun beating down midday Sunday. “It’s obviously important to a lot of people’s lives.”
Before gates opened up at 6:30 p.m. parking was nearly half full at Red Rocks Amphitheater for the Snoop Dogg-Wiz Khalifa grand finale of 4/20. Even in the open air lots, weed smoke hung in the calm evening air among the beer pong tables, bag toss games and grills. Fans such as Luke Dunning had been in the parking lot since about 4 p.m.
“You could see the rush coming in at 4:20,” Dunning said between turns playing bag toss. He had Easter brunch with his family before heading to Red Rocks.
Fans wandered the lots selling “I (pot leaf) Colorado” shirts and selling jewelry. Lounging on tailgates, most smoked from bongs, pipes and joints and drank from flasks, bottles and plastic cups.
By 6:45 p.m., the line at the South Gate of Red Rocks stretched to the bottom of the monolith.
By staff writers Matt Miller, Kate Gibbons, Ricardo Baca and Eric Gorski