By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Thousands of fans turned out for opening day of the Rockies 2021 season at Coors Field and filled up the restaurants and bars Thursday along Blake Street during the day, a much-needed boost in business for those working inside and outside.

“Amazing, we love it, we needed this, we need to get out there and work, serve Denver some of our best tacos,” said Chris Heredia of Chivis Taco Truck parked along Blake Street.  “The people have been turning out, everything has been great, since early in the morning.”

Chris Heredia

Chris Heredia (credit: CBS)

He depends on downtown events to keep him busy throughout the year but so many have been canceled since the start of the pandemic, the taco truck actually closed for eight months.

“Twenty thousand fans, better than none, you know, and I’ve come to every opening day since ’93, didn’t want to miss it,” said Peter Angelos, a fan arriving in the morning to Coors Field. “It’s going to be a day thing, I haven’t been out to do much other than shopping.”

(credit: CBS)

The variance approved for the first game of the regular season was increased to almost 50 percent, up from 12,500 fans initially allowed inside the stadium. Angelos and other fans noticed the difference with the smaller crowds earlier in the day and the COVID restrictions creating a new experience on game day. 

“It feels good to be around and just see people, you can’t see their smiles but at least we can see their eyes,” said Michael Bulger, another loyal fan who always attends opening day along with his wife.  
 
Alec Sturdy lives near the ballpark and started practicing the drums outside with the extra time on his hands during the pandemic. He decided to show off his skills on opening day and performed for hours to the crowds passing by on Blake Street.

“On a day like today, I figured I get the party started on the street,” he told CBS4. “People walking by, nodding their head, they pay me which is cool.”

Alec Sturdy

CBS4’s Shawn Chitnis interviews Alec Sturdy. (credit: CBS)

While it is not a full-time gig for him, he appreciates the money and hopes it can support a charitable cause once he earns enough from drumming. Sturdy would like to pursue music as a career and see the street scene for artists like him improve in Denver.

“It’s a beautiful day, I’m just glad we can start coming back out and living our lives,” he said.  

Intersections were closed off by police and they helped with crowd control at crosswalks. Restaurants and bars were monitoring capacity by keeping people distanced and forming lines outside to seat customers as tables became available. Fans did not mind the restrictions for COVID-19 at the stadium or in the neighborhood. 

“It feels great, finally, we’ve been waiting so long,” Maricella Bulger said.

Food truck vendors like Heredia are hopeful this is just the beginning and baseball games will be one of many opportunities to keep them going this year after such a difficult run in 2020. 

“Once things started getting better, we got back at it,” he said about Colorado reopening and the Rockies starting their season. “It trickles down to us, us small businesses, we need it, we need to be out here.” 

Shawn Chitnis