Denver 4/20 begins with plenty of tie-dye, good vibes and cannabis camaraderie

With many sporting tie-dye gear, pot-leaf garlands and wide grins, thousands of revelers began pouring into Denver’s Civic Center park on Friday for the annual 4/20 celebration in the de facto capital of cannabis.

“It’s the only holiday we like,” said Bre Grover, 21, of Nunn. “I think the hippies of the 60s would’ve been proud.”

Marijuana revelers weren’t deterred by dropping temperatures and approaching dark clouds. Lines were long at noon, but they were moving briskly and efficiently as bags were checked at the gates. Organizers expect 30,000 to 50,000 people to attend what’s officially called the Mile-High 420 Festival, complete with concerts, vendors and a giant cloud of smoke at 4:20 p.m.

Many weren’t waiting for 4:20 p.m. to partake, however. Pot smoke was on the breeze for blocks around the downtown park.

— Amanda Trejos (@amandatrecon) April 20, 2018

“All smoking is done behind closed doors in New Jersey,” said Kenny Dykes, 20. “Coming here makes me want to leave New Jersey.”

Petra Stojanovic, 20, of Boulder, came for more than the smoke. Like many, she came for the spectacle, the cannabis camaraderie and the music.

“I’m here to see Lil Wayne,” Stojanovic said. “My friends are visiting from New Jersey so we’re celebrating and showing them around.”

Devante Anderson, 26, of Wyoming, drove all the way to Denver to celebrate 4/20.

“There is nothing like this in Wyoming, so it’s cool that we can come here and celebrate,” he said. “Twenty years ago we would all be in jail. Today, we are here having a good time, no need to hide.”

Devante Anderson,26, of Wyoming drove all the way to Colorado to celebrate #420Denver. “There is nothing like this in Wyoming, so it’s cool that we can come here and celebrate,” he said. “20 years ago we would all be in jail, today we are here having a good time, no need to hide” pic.twitter.com/2jZrWVZMhz

— Amanda Trejos (@amandatrecon) April 20, 2018

This year, the industry has taken control of the event for the first time, after Euflora, a growing chain of dispensaries that started on the 16th Street Mall, won the right to step in for longtime permit-holder Miguel Lopez, a sometimes-combative pro-marijuana activist. Last year, Lopez earned city officials’ public scorn — as well as a three-year permit ban — after the city woke on April 21 to a disheveled, trash-strewn mess in the park.

Among the first things Euflora did in planning was hire Team Player Productions, which puts on the People’s Fair in Civic Center each June. On tap for 4/20 are more entrances, to cut down on fence-jumping; more security screeners and equipment to quicken the flow of lines; and new offerings, including beer gardens.

The festival, running 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., even started the day with yoga on the Broadway Terrace, with a 4 p.m. slot in the same location for a meditation-focused fitness event and a parkour challenge.

This is a developing story that will be updated. Staff writer Jon Murray contributed to this report.

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