Will Blackmon pounds a drum with his right hand as he hits a joint while playing with the 'Dankrupt players" at the annual 4/20 celebration Monday, April 20, 2015 in Lincoln Park in downtown Denver. The group of musicians have been traveling the country heading to California and arrived here today. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)

Relocated Denver 4/20 marijuana rally ends with traditional tokes

While the crowd at Monday’s unofficial 4/20 gathering at Lincoln Park was significantly smaller than the numbers at other events held during the annual celebration of all-things cannabis, it still held a special place for local pot activist Rob Corry.

“We’re calling this the ‘Retro Rally,’ because really , this is how things were afew years ago,” said Corry, a Denver attorney. “The last couple of days were a celebration of commerce and the history-making industry that marijuana has become in Colorado.

“And we should be proud of that, but today was about civil rights and the history of hemp and all the people who have been part of it.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Corry called for a forecast of “sunny, with a good chance of cloudiness at 4:20.” And indeed, when the appointed moment came, along with a massive cheer from the crowd, a large cloud of smoke wafted into the air.

Organizers estimated about 125,000 people participated in the rally Saturday and Sunday. While Monday’s numbers were considerably lower, estimated at about 3,000, it clearly carried an impact.

“I never thought I’d ever be at something like this in my life,” said one young woman, who did not want to be identified. “I moved here 2½ years ago, but I’ve always had to work on 4/20. But I have Mondays off, so here I am. … It’s pretty nuts, but it’s so much better than I ever thought it would be.”

The only overt sense of discord had come a few moments earlier, when two women squared off, clinching each other in headlocks before scrambling around across the grass, just a couple of feet away from another woman, sleeping it off in the sunshine.

Soon, Denver police and Colorado State Patrol deputies emerged, handcuffing the pair and taking them across the street to their phalanx of cars in front of the state Capitol.

Even then, about 20 minutes later, one of the officers could be seen sharing a laugh with one of the combatants. The lawn area in front of the building seemed to be something of a neutral ground, filled with curiosity seekers along with those who wanted to be close to the action — just not too close.

Similarly, there was far less intensity in Civic Center park.

The traditional site of the rally, Monday’s event was moved to Lincoln when organizers were unable to secure a permit to host the event there.

About an hour later, the “official” part of the unofficial event concluded and the crowd began drifting away, many making their way over to the 16th Street Mall, perhaps hoping to keep the party going.

Anthony Cotton: 303-954-1292, acotton @denverpost.com or twitter.com /anthonycottondp

Staff writer Anna Gauldin contributed to this story.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com