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Historic Civic Center Park Seeing A Nice Revival

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A concert in Civic Center Park (credit: civiccenterconservancy.org)

A concert in Civic Center Park (credit: civiccenterconservancy.org)

CBS4 Critic at Large Greg Moody

DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds of hungry people have been flocking to Civic Center Park around lunch time to get a taste of the city’s largest gathering of gourmet food trucks.

The food trucks assemble in the center of the park every Tuesday and Thursday as part of Civic Center EATS Outdoor Cafe.

“I think it’s great” said consumer Chris Humber. “I wish they had more tables.”

The Civic Center Conservancy is focusing its efforts on the little things to meet the demand and enhance the experience for everyday people who come to the park.

“You know sometimes it’s just the cumulating of small gestures that can really transform a space” said Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, Executive Director of the Civic Center Conservancy. “So this year at Civic Center EATS we have increased the shaded seating by 60 percent.”

The combination of tasty food and live music has succeeded in attracting more people to the park. The Conservancy is attempting to use events like Civic Center EATS to change the culture of the park.

“I think right now it’s great,” said second-time visitor Brad Schoenfeld as he ate a burger. “I think at times it’s probably not the safest or best place to be, and so I think that probably keeps some people away.”

Leaders in the Civic Center Conservancy believe that one of the ways to improve the safety and overall image of the park is to activate it with more people and positive activity.

Along with the EATS Outdoor Café the Conservancy also promotes other events like the Bike-In Movie series which offers free outdoor movies throughout the summer.

Along with increasing safety in Civic Center Park, construction was completed on a nearly $10 million renovation project designed to support and boost the positive activation. The overhaul addressed deferred maintenance of the park’s infrastructure.

“We want to honor Civic Center’s rich history” said Eichenbaum Lent. “That requires some infrastructure.”

Improvements were made to the Greek Theater to better attract performers and also to the historic Carnegie Library to better integrate it into the park.

“The historic structures are gleaming,” said Eichenbaum Lent. “It really adds to the feel the safety the perception the aesthetics of the park.”

The park recently made some history of its own by being designated as Denver’s first and only National Historic Landmark. The label puts Civic Center on par with iconic national landmarks like the Alamo and Empire State Building.

Denver’s newly-named historic venue will play host to the annual Independence Eve celebration on July 3. The massive event highlights the music of the Colorado Symphony accompanied by a laser show and fireworks display.

“The beauty of Independence Eve is it really attracts a diverse multi-generational crowd into Civic Center,” said Eichenbaum Lent.

SECTION: Independence Eve

The annual celebration has become a tradition in Denver; something that the Conservancy hopes will continue the legacy of Civic Center.

“By creating this family tradition for so many, an emotional connection to the park, hopefully we are cultivating the next generation of stewards for Civic Center Park,” said Eichenbaum Lent.

The more reasons to come to the park and appreciate what it has to offer, the more Civic Center will continue to help write the bright history of Denver.

The Civic Center Conservancy is currently working to raise funds in an attempt to raise approximately $25 million to bring new features and amenities to the park and support maintenance and programming well into the future.

LINK:  Civic Center Conservancy

- By CBS4 Intern Josh Christensen for CBS4Denver.com

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