A cloud of smoke loomed over a mellow crowd Saturday as Wiz Khalifa stepped on stage at Denver’s 420 Rally.
The event, which kicked off at 10 a.m. and ran until 10 p.m., featured free performances from Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa. Organizers expect more than 100,000 people to flock to the park, where around 250 vendors set up shop to promote all things cannabis. Official attendance numbers were unavailable Saturday night.
“I wanted to come here because people come from all around the world who are committed to liberating marijuana,” said Patrick Bettis, who drove from Illinois to promote his business, Liberation Leaf. “We’re all coming together because of one thing — weed and being able to consume freely being that thing.”
The rally was originally scheduled for April 16, but organizers said snowy weather and “circumstances beyond our control,” led them to reschedule.
Miguel Lopez, the rally’s organizer who originally insisted that the show would go on rain or shine, said postponing would allow for a “bigger and better show,” on a nicer day.
“I wasn’t going to come today,” said Naomi Rotondo, a 25-year-old from Denver. “After it was canceled, I was over it. But I’m still having a good time.”
When the original event was postponed, Ashlee Milheim, who paid $50 for a ticket that guaranteed a spot closer to the performers, said she was worried about getting a refund.
“I’ve seen Wiz, like, three times,” she said. “But I was really worried we wouldn’t be able to see them after it was canceled.”
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Kenora Dagon, a University of Colorado Boulder student, was crossing an item off her Colorado bucket list by attending the rally.
“I feel like this is something you have to experience once if you live in Colorado,” she said.
Others came for the headlining performances.
“We came for Wiz,” said Sylvana Ross, 19. “I’m in college, so it’s great that this is a free event. It’s such a fun experience.”
Denver police will have a large presence in the park Saturday and will issue citations for public consumption of marijuana. While recreational use was legalized in Colorado with the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012, it remains illegal to consume it in public.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, officials didn’t know how many citations had been issued during the event. On April 20 this year, when thousands gathered in Civic Center to celebrate, police issued about 60 citations for marijuana. At last year’s rally, which lasted two days, police issued more than 150 citations.
In 2013, an argument between rival gang members led to the shooting of three people at the 420 rally.
On Saturday, police checked bags and inspected each person as they entered the park.
“I was here for the gun shooting, and that was scary,” said Kylie Heath. “I was glad they were searching bags today.”
Katy Canada: 303-954-1043, email@example.com or @KatySusanna
Seen and heard at the Denver 420 Rally: