Western Welcome Week, other events plan full return

Few restrictions expected after mid-May; Fire Muster, concerts to return

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 4/27/21

Littleton can expect a summer filled with events and festivals, with everything from the Fire Muster, Littleton Criterium and a full Western Welcome Week planned to go forward. “I’ve been …

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Western Welcome Week, other events plan full return

Few restrictions expected after mid-May; Fire Muster, concerts to return

Posted

Littleton can expect a summer filled with events and festivals, with everything from the Fire Muster, Littleton Criterium and a full Western Welcome Week planned to go forward.

“I’ve been thinking about it like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon,” said City of Littleton spokesperson Kelli Narde. “Soon everyone who wants a vaccine can get one, the public health orders will be less strict, and people are ready to get out and be together.”

Arapahoe County can expect to see many of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions lifted by mid-May, said Mellissa Sager, the policy and public affairs officer for the Tri-County Health Department.

Despite a recent trend of increasing hospitalizations for COVID-19 — bad enough that Gov. Jared Polis declared Colorado to be in a “fourth wave” of the pandemic — Sager said the county is still on track to be granted “level clear” on the state’s COVID dial on May 16, which would lift virtually all capacity restrictions. Tri-County has already lifted the outdoor face mask mandate.

“Only if things get drastically worse would we go back to restrictions,” she said. “We anticipate the severity (of the pandemic) will stay down as folks get vaccinated. Counties will go to level clear and likely stay there.”

Still, Sager encouraged festival planners and attendees to stay smart.

“The more distance people keep and hand sanitizer available, the better,” she said. “A big thing is communicating. Check event websites and see what the rules and expectations are.”

City-run events have a full calendar this year, Narde said, including three Meet Greet & Eat events with city officials, the Littleton Criterium bicycle race in July, and three Little Jam concerts — which will be hosted in different parts of the city this year instead of Bega Park in downtown.

The Block Party, which typically kicks off summer in early June, won’t be held this year, in lieu of a resumption of Weekends on Main, which shuts down Main Street to through-traffic on weekends for outdoor dining.

The program, which was initially paid for by the City of Littleton during tight restaurant capacity restrictions last summer, was later taken over by the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants (HDLM), which plans to run the show again from May to October.

“We had talked about closing down the street for dining on weekends for years, but it took COVID to make it happen,” said Greg Reinke, who heads HDLM.

Reinke said he plans to incorporate many of the attractions once part of the Block Party, like buskers and street performers, into Weekends on Main.

Reinke encouraged attendees to support downtown merchants, which in many cases have had an even tougher time than restaurateurs.

The Fire Muster, the annual Father’s Day weekend event that brings fire trucks and first responders down Main Street to Arapahoe Community College for a day of demonstrations and games, is back on.

“We’re trying to bring it all together,” said event organizer Paula Wiens. “There are a lot of loose ends, and we’re operating on sort of short notice, but we’ll make it work.”

What’s not yet known is whether the fire truck parade down Main Street can go forward — that’s dependent on if Weekends on Main can be broken down to make way that Saturday morning. Reinke said he wasn’t yet sure if that would happen.

The Aspen Grove shopping center in south Littleton is planning a variety of events, including the Plein Air Arts Festival and the monthly Paris Street Market, which resumes May 1.

Englewood, which takes the reins on the Independence Day fireworks show at Belleview and Cornerstone parks, opted to bring back the event this year by a 4-3 city council vote in March.

Western Welcome Week, Littleton’s signature annual bash, is expected to come back fully this August, said Cindy Hathaway, the event’s executive director.

“We’re working on everything,” Hathaway said. That includes the Grand Parade, Craft Fair, Taste of Western Welcome Week, Fishing Derby and pig roast.

Last year’s Western Welcome Week was a subdued affair, with only a handful of events held in-person, and the Grand Parade canceled for the first time in the event’s history.

This year’s theme is Together Again, she said. 

“People are looking forward to this maybe more than they ever have,” she said. “People last year were disappointed, but understanding. There was nothing we could do. This year is a comeback - a man came up to me the other day and said, ‘I want to pat you on the back for bringing back my Western Welcome Week.’ That struck me - for so many people, it’s their event. Their celebration. Their Littleton.”

Colorado Community Media, the Littleton Independent's parent company, is a sponsor of Western Welcome Week. To become a sponsor, visit WesternWelcomeWeek.org.

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