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Tourism Stars

“Tourism Star” awards are presented to organizations and attractions that had a significant impact on Denver’s tourism industry during the preceding year.

1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

2014

 

Denver Art Museum

In 2014, the Denver Art Museum brought the world exclusive showing of Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century. Continuing a string of exclusive, Colorado-only exhibitions, Brilliant showcases priceless gems, jewelry, timepieces and precious objects, many that were previously owned by royalty and celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, J.P. Morgan, the Aga Khan and other luminaries. Future bookings are strong due to hotel packages created around the show.

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Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens broke all attendance records and created another blockbuster attraction for Denver hotel packages with their day and nighttime exhibition, Chihuly. Chihuly Nights became so popular that it sold out a month early, making the “golden tickets” available with hotel packages the only way to see the exhibit, thereby greatly increasing the number of tourists who stayed overnight. The amazing artworks became an internet sensation with thousands upon thousands of images flooding social media, boosting Denver’s image worldwide as a major cultural destination.

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Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science created one of their largest shows ever: Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed. This was the largest exhibition about the ancient Maya ever to be displayed in the United States and used a combination of never-before-seen artifacts, hands-on activities and immense walk-in environments to explore the rise, accomplishments and eventual decline of the ancient cities of the Maya. It was the first exhibition in the Museum’s new Anschutz Gallery, which is located in the Museum’s new 126,000-square-foot addition, the Morgridge Family Exploration Center.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver also created an exclusive, one-of-a-kind show: Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia. This retrospective exhibition brought together the first comprehensive presentation of Mark Mothersbaugh’s art and music to date, from the beginning of his career in the early 1970s through the present. Though well known around the globe as a founding member of the popular band DEVO, Mark Mothersbaugh has been a prolific artist since before the band’s inception, and continues to produce work that makes the case for his position as an important figure in contemporary culture.

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2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championship

The 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championship, July 10-19, 2014, was the first time US Lacrosse hosted this world championship since 1998. The event featured 38 countries, the most ever in an international lacrosse competition, and is the furthest west the competition has ever been held, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for lacrosse fans who traveled to Denver from around the globe. International television coverage highlighted this great family entertainment that included an International Village and ten days of competition for 215 amateur youth and men’s teams at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

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2014 BMW Championship

The 2014 BMW Championship, September 1-7, 2014, brought some of the world’s top golfers to Cherry Hills Country Club. The William Flynn designed course has hosted seven Major Championships and two U.S. Amateur Championships since it opened in 1922 and is one of only three courses to have hosted the U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open. Special international coverage on the Golf Channel highlighted Denver around the globe as a major golf and tourism destination.

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Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos filled local establishments with the help of two exciting home playoff games on their way to Super Bowl XLVIII, helping to set new records in January 2014 for hotel occupancies and average room rates. The Broncos clinched their fourth consecutive AFC West title in the 2014 season, building an enormous national audience, generating millions of dollars of publicity for Denver and initiating thousands of overnight stays from Broncos fans across the country. In October 2014, a Harris Poll found that the Denver Broncos had become the most popular team in the nation and were able to take hold of the title, “America’s Team.”

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Union Station

One of most exciting projects in Denver’s history opened in July 2014 with the complete restoration of the city’s Union Station. The historic, Beaux Arts 1914 train station and terminal reopened with ten new restaurants and bars, the new 112-room Crawford Hotel, and a selection of fine retailers including a branch of the popular Tattered Cover Bookstore. Union Station is also fulfilling its original role as the “Grand Central Station” of Denver – the city’s major ground transportation hub, serving as a station and transfer point for AMTRAK, Light Rail, regional buses and local circulators, with direct commuter rail service to Denver International Airport starting in 2016. For their work in preserving this historic gem and transforming it into a centerpiece of Denver for entertainment, dining, shopping and transportation, Tourism Star Awards are presented to the two principal developers: RTD and the Union Station Alliance.

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2013

 

Denver Art Museum

In 2013, the Denver Art Museum presented Passport to Paris, an original exhibition that helped book hundreds of hotel packages.

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Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science created Mammoths & Mastodons and brought in the highly popular Mythbusters exhibition, while finishing its new space, the 126,000 square-foot Morgridge Family Exploration Center, in preparation for the opening of Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed in early 2014.

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Denver Center for Performing Arts/Denver Center Attractions/Denver Center Theatre Company

The Denver Center Theatre Company staged the world premiere of Sense & Sensibility, which played for two months, while Denver Center Attractions presented an array of blockbuster Broadway shows in the Buell Theatre, including the return of the national tour of The Book of Mormon, making it one of the busiest theatres of its size in the nation.

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Denver Mountain Parks

Denver’s Mountain Park system is unique. With legendary parks like Red Rocks Park and the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, this 14,000 acre park system covers four counties and ranges in elevation from 6,000 to 13,000 feet. It is one of Denver’s most cherished tourism icons. From grasslands to glaciers, bison to Buffalo Bill, Denver’s 46 Mountain Parks are unique not only for their incredible range of scenery and activity, but because all of them are located outside of the city’s borders, most less than an hour’s drive away. The Mountain Parks preserve examples of every life zone found in Colorado, from windswept prairie to alpine tundra high above timberline, they have been bringing tourists to the Mile High City for 100 years.

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Jennifer Jasinski

Jennifer Jasinski had an incredible year in 2013, helping to gain national publicity for Denver’s culinary scene by both winning the James Beard Foundation’s 2013 “Best Chef Southwest” and by competing well on Bravo Channel’s nationally televised “Top Chef Masters.” Jasinski opened her first restaurant, Rioja, in Denver’s Historic Larimer Square to critical acclaim in 2004, featuring a menu inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and influenced by local and seasonal products. She and business partner Beth Gruitch acquired Bistro Vendôme, a French bistro across the street from Rioja in 2006 and opened Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen just around the corner in 2010. The pair will open Stoic & Genuine at Denver’s Historic Union Station later this year. Chef Jen was named 2004 Colorado Chef of the Year and 2005 Western Regional Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. Rioja is consistently listed among Denver’s top restaurants by The Denver Post, 5280 Magazine, and the Gabby Gourmet Restaurant Guide. Jasinski has been named Best New Chef, Rising Star, Best Chef and more in Denver Magazine, Restaurant Hospitality, Nation’s Restaurant News, The Denver Post, and 5280 Magazine.

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Solheim Cup

The 2013 Solheim Cup held at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado, the week of August 13th – 18th is a biennial team competition that showcases the world’s best female professional golfers in a match between the United States and Europe. Similar to the PGA’s Ryder Cup, it is a three-day match play event between teams of twelve players. Although the European Team was victorious with a recording-setting score of 18-10, the real “winner” was Colorado. The state was promoted across several media platforms and received the most television coverage in the event’s history, reaching 77 countries and over 190 million households particularly in our top tourism markets in Europe. The event generated millions of dollars of publicity, and millions of direct spending by players, sponsors, fans, and media.

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2012

 

2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four

Denver hosted the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four last April, a marquee sporting event that brought 30,000 visitors to the city and generated more than $20 million in spending in The Mile High City. ESPN broadcast the games, which were distributed to approximately 177 countries around the world. In addition to the national coverage and spending, the NCAA brought a series of free events for Denver citizens and visitors alike including Tourney Town™ Refreshed by Coca-Cola Zero™, Mile High Dribble, 4Kay® Run Hydrated by POWERADE ZERO™ and more. The lasting legacy of the 2012 Women’s Final Four on the Denver community included the NCAA Middle School Madness®, NCAA Pinnacle of Fitness®, POWERADE® NCAA Youth Clinics, NCAA Junior Journalism Workshop, Denver Community Challenge, and equipment donations through Wilson® Sporting Goods Co., altogether impacting more than 25,000 Denver middle school and elementary age children. The total contributions of the NCAA Women’s Final Four to Denver schools and charities was more than $150,000.

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Denver Art Museum for Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective and Becoming Van Gogh

In 2012, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) raised the national and international recognition of Denver as a major cultural center by hosting two unique blockbuster shows, both of which generated outstanding press and visitors from all over the world. Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective was a sweeping examination of the designer’s 40 years of creativity, featuring a stunning selection of 200 haute couture garments along with numerous photographs, drawings, and films that illustrated the development of Saint Laurent's style. The exhibition was held in Paris and Madrid, before coming to Denver. The DAM was the only United States venue for the exhibition, which attracted a huge local, regional, national, and international audience, and also sold more than 1,000 hotel packages. The museum followed this up with the world-exclusive Becoming Van Gogh, an in-depth exploration of Vincent Van Gogh’s unconventional path to becoming one of the world’s most recognizable artists. The exhibition displayed more than 70 paintings and drawings by Van Gogh, along with works by artists to whom he responded such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Camille Pissarro. The show was wildly successful, selling out an unprecedented period where the museum was open for 40 hours straight for the final weekend. Together, these shows generated press around the world establishing Denver as a major center for the arts.

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Denver International Airport and United Airlines for new Tokyo nonstop flight

In May 2012, Denver International Airport (DEN) and United Airlines announced that United Airlines will launch daily nonstop service between Denver and Narita International Airport (NRT) in Tokyo, Japan. With its joint venture partner All Nippon Airways, United’s passengers will benefit from connecting service in Narita to more than 20 destinations across Asia. The flight is scheduled to depart Denver at 12:25 p.m. and arrive in Tokyo at 3:30 p.m. the next day, with the return trip departing Tokyo at 5:00 p.m., arriving in Denver at 12:50 p.m. the same day. The flight is expected to generate an annual impact of $130 million to the state’s economy and bring more than 30,000 new visitors.” In 2011 DEN ranked as the fifth busiest airport in the U.S., and 11th-busiest in the world with more than 1,700 daily flights, including more than 170 worldwide destinations.

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Denver Zoo for Toyota Elephant Passage

The largest project in the history of Denver Zoo opened to international acclaim, not only for its beauty, but for its sustainability. The $50 million, 10-acre exhibit contains six large animal habitats with more than 100 animal transfer gates managed from a control center, connecting two miles of trails for animals to explore. It can hold up to 12 Asian elephants, including eight male bull elephants, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. Toyota Elephant Passage is the first large animal exhibit complex in the country to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification at the Platinum level, the highest green construction certification available. Record-breaking crowds helped boost Denver Zoo (consistently the top paid attraction in Denver) to break the 2 million visitor mark for the first time, setting an all-time attendance record in 2012.

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History Colorado Center

Imagine pairing History Colorado's creative vision for storytelling through immersive, hands-on, high-tech exhibits and programs with a stunning and green-built 200,000-square-foot cultural facility designed by Denver firm Tryba Architects with a goal to create a modern-day museum experience that connects its visitors from what “was” to what’s “next.” That is the new $110 million, experiential History Colorado Center. Visitors get a sense of Colorado’s diverse geography when they walk into the History Colorado Center’s four-story-high, sunlit Anschutz Hamilton Hall, where kids and grown-ups alike explore a 40-by-60 foot terrazzo tile floor map by pushing around a Jules Verne-inspired storytelling "time machine" on top of it. Inside its spacious galleries, immersive experiences abound that tackle a variety of topics, some serious and some fun, and all designed to spark a greater interest in both Colorado and history. Visitors of every age explore places like Keota, a dryland farming town from the 1920s; "drive" across the eastern plains in a real Model-T Ford; "yearbook" themselves with early 20th-century styles to post to Facebook; try memorizing a dynamite pattern in a Silverton hard rock mine before pushing the plunger; trade goods at Bent's Old Fort with Chief Yellow Wolf and Kit Carson; learn how to soar off Steamboat Spring's Howelson Hill in a ski jump simulator; and discover the heart, art and whimsy of the city of Denver, starting with "A for Adrenaline" and ending with "Z for Zombies." During their visit, museum-goers may also catch a live performance, museum theater program or speaker, or even attend a workshop in the Stephen H. Hart Research Library. Since its April 28, 2012 debut, this signature cultural attraction and Smithsonian Affiliate has provided urban enhancement to downtown Denver's Golden Triangle Museum District, brought food and retail to the area through its Rendezvous Café and museum store, and has attracted new and larger audiences while inspiring statewide tourism. Whether holding a special event, exhibiting Smithsonian or History Colorado artifacts, opening a new core exhibit or bringing in a major traveling show, visitors can expect that something new and exciting is always happening at the History Colorado Center.

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2011

 

Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum opened on November 18, 2011, becoming the newest cultural tourism attraction in Denver. The museum opened to rave reviews and incredible publicity in the “New York Times”, “Washington Post”, “Wall Street Journal” and many other tourism and art magazines. It is being heralded as yet more proof that Denver is indeed becoming the cultural and art center of the Rocky Mountain West. The museum reintroduces the life and work of one of America’s most significant, yet least understood artists and houses 94% of Clyfford Still’s total creative output from his 60-year career. The museum’s collection of approximately 2,400 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures, the majority of which have never been on public display before, provides an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the full scope of Still’s legacy and his profound influence on American art. From the stunning building, designed by Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture, to the amazing collection of art, the Clyfford Still Museum is a unique cultural attraction that will increase cultural tourism to Denver by art lovers around the world.

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Denver International Airport & Icelandair

After nearly a year of work and due diligence, along with the leadership of Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver International Airport and Icelandair announced that a nonstop flight from Denver to Reykjavik, Iceland would begin in the spring of 2012. From its hub in the nation’s capital, Icelandair serves more than 20 cities in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, opening up a new, low cost airfare alternative for Europeans to travel to Denver. More than 80 percent of the people using Icelandair are not from Iceland, but are Europeans and Americans using the airline to reach other destinations. This is the first new transatlantic flight for Denver International Airport in several years, following British Airways and Lufthansa as European airlines serving the Mile High City, and will bring more than $28 million in economic impact to Colorado while creating 300 new jobs. Most important, it provides a boost to Denver’s ever-growing international tourism efforts, providing a simple, easy, low cost, one-stop flight to the Mile High City from most major European capital cities. Icelandair launched the introduction of the new flight with major marketing efforts, promoting Denver as the gateway to Colorado and the American West.

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USA Pro Cycling Challenge

The inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge was the most demanding bike race ever held on American soil, with racers experiencing breathless altitudes for seven consecutive days. It was also one of the biggest tourism promotions ever for Denver and Colorado, sending spectacular images of the state to millions of television viewers around the world. From August 22-28, 2011, 135 of the world’s top athletes raced 518 miles through some of America’s most beautiful scenery, including Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs before finishing in front of a gigantic crowd in downtown Denver. Nearly one million spectators viewed the race in person from the roadsides along the route, while millions more in 161 countries and territories around the world watched the race on television, with major broadcasts by NBC and Versus. In just its first year, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge became one of the largest cycling events in United States history with World Champions and the Tour de France podium winners Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck among the racers. On the final day, Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack was awarded the Quiznos Leader Jersey and crowned the first-ever champion of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “I don’t know if I’ve ever raced in a place where the fans have been so appreciative,” said Cadel Evans, 2011 winner of the Tour de France. The race generated more than $83 million of economic impact for Colorado.

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2010

 

Biennial of the Americas

The first Biennial of the Americas celebrated the culture, ideas and people of the 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere. Held from July 1-31, 2010, the Biennial offered cross-cultural experiences through a wide array of art exhibits, live music and special cultural programming. Emerging leaders in the arts, culture, sciences, politics, economics and technology convened at roundtable discussions designed to create a shared vision for a more cohesive hemisphere. The event generated international press and prestige for Denver, bringing many distinguished visitors to the city, as well as providing a top summer attraction.

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BODY WORLDS and the Story of the Heart at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

More than 30 million people, including children, have taken this fantastic voyage exploring the mysteries and wonders of the human body. This new BODY WORLDS exhibit, with a special focus on the heart, the hardest working organ of all, included more than 200 human specimens, including whole-body plastinates, organs and translucent body slices. It was a huge hit for both the city and the museum, attracting visitors to have another up close and personal look at the human body.

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Denver B-cycle

Denver launched the first bike sharing program in America on April 22, 2010, offering 500 red B-cycles at nearly 50 stations throughout Denver. Visitors and convention delegates could purchase a 24-hour membership at any B-cycle station for just $5 using a credit card, and then take unlimited rides up to 30 minutes for free. Stations are located are major attractions, from the Colorado Convention Center to the Denver Art Museum to Cherry Creek Shopping Center, making it easy for visitors to use the city's 85 miles of paved, off-street bike trails to get around town. The program resulted in national press and reinforces Denver's brand pillar as a green, bike and pedestrian-friendly city.

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Denver's Day of Rock

Downtown Denver was transformed into a massive free rock concert on May 29, 2010, when 20 bands took to four stages for the second Annual Denver Day of Rock. Held as a fund-raiser for Concerts for Kids, the day-long event attracted huge crowds and helped sell out downtown hotel rooms, giving Denver one of its busiest Memorial Day weekends on record. The Romantics, Fishbone, Roger Klein, Epilogues, Angie Stevens, Something Underground and the Heyday were just some of the bands that brought the busiest crowds Downtown Denver had seen since the Democratic National Convention.

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Moore in the Garden at Denver Botanic Garden

Twenty monumental works by acclaimed British sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) were the highlight of Moore in the Gardens, a landmark exhibition of monumental works displayed in landscape settings, providing the perfect backdrop for work which demanded to be seen in the open. Home to 33,000 plants in 45 different individual gardens, the Denver Botanic Gardens is recognized as one of the top botanic gardens in the western United States and this show certainly helped cement that reputation. Visitors were able to view these pieces in a diverse array of landscape - from prairie wildflowers and serene reflecting pools to cacti or a rugged alpine rock garden.

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Tutankhamun: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs at the Denver Art Museum

Boasting 130 objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other famous Egyptian pharaohs, this incredible exhibition brought many items to Denver that had never been seen in the U.S. before, including a rare 10-foot statue of Tut, the largest image of the boy king yet discovered. In a special family area, kids could dress up as an Egyptian ibis or owl, make an Egyptian collar or kick back with a book on ancient pyramids. The critically acclaimed exhibit attracted visitors from throughout the metro area and across the entire Rocky Mountain region.

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2009

 

Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD)

In 2009, the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) celebrated 20 years of helping to reshape the landscape of Colorado into a world-class cultural center. The SCFD is an unique, seven-county collaboration that through a .1 percent sales and use tax raises approximately $40 million annually that is distributed to more than 300 cultural organizations. In addition to improving the quality of life, Denver’s art and cultural community generates more than $1.7 billion in economic activity annually, much of this as result of SCFD funding.

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SportAccord

SportAccord, held March 23-27, 2009 in Denver, was a gathering of 1500 members of more than 100 international sports federations, as well 5,000 interested parties and media. This was the first time this prestigious meeting was held in North America and it offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Denver to showcase its sports facilities and amenities to the most influential sports leaders in the world. As a result, Denver has already been considered for several prestigious international sporting events.

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United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 30th Annual Convention & Business Expo

The nation’s largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders took place in Denver, Sept. 16-19, 2009, when the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) hosted their 30th Annual National Convention in the Mile High City. The four-day event attracted 2,000 Hispanic business leaders for educational workshops, meetings and a free Business Expo in the Colorado Convention Center that was open to the public. Denver hosted some of the top Hispanic decision-makers from corporate America, key political leaders and officials from President Obama’s administration for this convention.

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2008

 

American Association of Museums

The largest gathering of museum executives in the nation took place from April 27-May 1, 2008, providing Denver an opportunity to showcase its museums and cultural facilities to thousands of influential stakeholders in the cultural community. Founded in 1906, the American Association of Museums (AAM) is dedicated to promoting excellence within the museum community. AAM currently represents more than 16,000 members – 11,500 individual museum professionals and volunteers, 3,100 institutions, and 1,700 corporate members. Every type of museum is represented by the more than 3,100 institutional members, including art, history, science, military and maritime, and youth museums, as well as aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, arboretums, historic sites, and science and technology centers.

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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

The MEDAL OF HONOR is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the United States Armed Services. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor. At the time of Denver’s Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention, September 16-20, 2008, there were just 101 living recipients - 60 of whom attended making this one of the greatest gatherings of American heroes in the country’s history. Among those honored at the Denver convention was Clint Eastwood, who was presented the Bob Hope Award. A special exhibit dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients was seen by tens of thousands of people at Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

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Democratic National Convention 2008

The largest event in Denver’s history attracted 50,000 visitors, including 17,000 national and international media. The event generated $266 million of economic benefit for Metro Denver, including $134 million in direct spending. The Denver Host Committee was responsible for putting together every aspect of this event: from fundraising to creating welcome signage, from staging events to hosting the opening media reception, from organizing 17,000 volunteers to working with the media to generate stories on the event. Denver received hundreds of millions of dollars of worldwide publicity from the Convention.

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National Performing Arts Convention

A total of 3,739 members of the performing arts community - representing 1,813 organizations across the globe - attended the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention in Denver. This prestigious event is held only once every four years, beckoning visitors from all 50 states and many international destinations. Mayor Hickenlooper attended the 2004 inaugural event in Pittsburgh, and was instrumental in helping Denver win the convention. For four days, Denver was the center of the nation’s performing arts community, with national leaders discussing issues such as education, creativity and the impact of new technologies. NPAC offered an important opportunity to elevate Denver’s image as a national center for performing arts.

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NCAA Frozen Four — 2008

The NCAA 2008 Men’s Frozen Four Hockey Tournament is the hockey equivalent of college basketball’s Final Four and was held at Pepsi Center from April 10-12. The sold out four-day tournament with a combined total of 55,000 attendees, 15,000 of them coming from out-of-town, was the fourth largest crowd in Frozen Four history, and the opening Thursday night game was the largest attendance ever for that day. This prestigious sporting event generated an estimated $10-13 million of economic development for Denver, and coverage of the games gave Denver national exposure as an important sports center. When Denver won the games in 2003, it was the first time a city was awarded both a regional games and the tournament, again establishing Denver as a center for major sporting events.

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2007

 

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park

Kroenke Sports Enterprises recently scored another winning goal with the opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City this April. The complex, which is the new home of the Colorado Rapids, is the largest and most state-of-the-art professional soccer stadium and field complex in the world, with an 18,000 seat stadium and 24 full-size soccer fields that are attracting thousands of fans, youth soccer players, and adult leagues 365 days a year. The new complex hosted the 2007 Major League Soccer All-Star Game, one of many sold-out events at the complex this year. That’s proof that fans of the most popular sport in the world are now flooding into the most popular sports city in America to watch world-class soccer teams compete.

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Great American Beer Festival

Colorado produces more beer than any other state and Denver produces more beer than any other city. The Great American Beer Festival is the grand daddy of all US beer fests and a Denver tradition for 26 years. In their quest for the best in suds, this year more than 100 professional judges sipped 2,793 beers from 470 domestic breweries, the largest array of US beers ever gathered together in one setting. The Festival - presented by the Brewers Association - is not only the American brewing industry’s top public tasting event, it is an annual reunion for the nation’s craft brewers, drawing thousands of visitors each year from all over America and the world.

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Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art opened its doors on October 28th of this year.

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2006

 

Colorado Senator Jack Taylor and Representative Al White

The loss of state tourism funding in 1993 resulted in a 30% drop in Colorado’s leisure market share and an annual decline of $2 billion dollars in visitor spending. By 2001, Colorado ranked 35th among all states in tourism marketing dollars and was struggling to attract visitors. Colorado Senator Jack Taylor and Representative Al White recognized that without a permanent source of funding for Colorado tourism, visitor numbers would continue to fall and local businesses would suffer. These tireless legislators had the business acumen to understand what needed to be done, and the leadership and persistence to pull it off. This year they triumphed with the passage of House Bill 1201, creating the largest tourism marketing budget in our state’s history, a full 19 million dollars.

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Denver Art Museum, Frederic C. Hamilton Building

No building in Denver’s history has generated more publicity or anticipation than the new Frederic C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind. From the New Yorker to The New York Times, major arts, architecture and travel publications around the world have covered this remarkable new building. Housed within the $90.5 million, 146,000 square foot expansion’s cantilevered walls and uniquely shaped galleries are permanent collections for some 60,000 pieces of modern and contemporary, western American, African and Oceanic art. The crown jewel of Denver’s recent cultural boom, The Frederic C. Hamilton Building provides the opportunity to experience a true urban gem and is sure to entice visitors near and far for many years to come.

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Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Body Worlds 2

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science picked a clear winner with BODY WORLDS 2, the internationally renowned anatomical exhibition. By its closing date, attendance topped an astonishing 687,000 visitors, 80,000 of them from out of state. To generate these huge numbers, the museum created a number of innovative marketing techniques, including extending their normal operating hours and running the exhibit 24 hours a day during the last week of the show. The third largest touring exhibit in the Museum’s history, BODY WORLDS 2 presented more than 200 authentic human specimens preserved by a process called Plastination. This genuinely unique experience captured the imagination of attendees and became one of the largest tourism events in Denver’s history.

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2005

 

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (DEN) celebrated its 10th Anniversary in high style in 2005, setting the all-time monthly record for traffic with 4,275,728 travelers using the airport in July 2005 – the most ever in one month. Through the end of August, the airport was 2.3 percent ahead of last year in passenger traffic and on pace to set a new annual record. But DEN has been making other achievements than high volume. The FAA consistently ranks DEN as one of the top on-time airports in the nation, allowing visitors and conventions quick and easy access to Denver and Colorado. The airport’s excellent on-time performance, record of reliability and financial stability helped attract Southwest Airlines back to Denver after more than 20 years.

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Ellie Caulkins Opera House

The new $92 million, 2,268-seat Ellie Caulkins Opera House (affectionately known as "The Ellie") opened in Sept. 2005, completing the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC) by providing a first-class, natural acoustical home for opera, ballet and chorales. This state-of-the-art lyric opera house has come to life inside the walls of the historic 1908 Newton Auditorium and offers beautiful lobbies, grand staircases and four levels of seating with unobstructed sightlines and views. The Ellie serves as the "crown jewel" of DPAC, the largest arts complex in the world under one roof featuring 10 performance spaces connected by an 80-foot tall glass roof. The Ellie has already garnered much national press and is being declared one of the finest acoustic halls in the nation.

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NBA All Star Game 2005

Hotel occupancies, average room rates, restaurant taxes and sales taxes in metro Denver jumped as much as 32 percent during the four-day NBA All-Star Weekend, Feb. 18-21, 2005, compared to the same weekend the year before. Figures from Smith Travel Research prove that this colorful national sporting event generated more than $30 million in economic impact for Denver in just four days. But the NBA All-Star Game brought much more than money to Denver. National television coverage helped showcase the changes that have taken place in Denver’s dining, shopping and entertainment. More than 1,300 media were in town to cover the event, 250 of them from overseas. The game was broadcast in 48 languages to 3.1 billion people in 214 counties.

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2004

 

Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo is the fourth most popular zoo in America based on paid attendance and was ranked in the Longwoods 2003 tourism study as Denver’s second most popular paid attraction. In 2004, the Denver Zoo opened the $25 million Predator Ridge, the largest tourism attraction to open in Denver this year. At Predator Ridge, visitors encounter 15 species of animals as they walk through rock outcroppings, winding past thorn bushes to special viewpoints where they can look out on to a scene replicating the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. The new exhibit is just one of many new additions to the Denver Zoo and is part of the Zoo’s $125 million master plan.

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Frontier Airlines

Founded in 1994, Frontier is Denver’s hometown airline. Frontier provides service from Denver to 43 destinations in 23 states spanning the nation from coast-to-coast and to five cities in Mexico. The airline is the second largest jet carrier at Denver International Airport with an average of 225 daily system-wide departures and arrivals. In 2004, they were selected as one of the top 10 airlines in the world by the readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine. Their new creative and award-winning ad campaign has helped establish them as one of the nation’s most prominent low cost carriers. Frontier has been a partner in promoting Denver as a destination and in 2004, Frontier introduced a new in-flight magazine and video concept that will offer additional opportunities to promote and market Denver as a travel destination.

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Larimer Square

In 1969, Larimer Square became one of the first revitalized downtown historic districts in the nation. Today, it remains the most lively and exciting block in Denver, filled with great shops, trendy restaurants and nightspots and host to numerous colorful events, including the nation’s second largest Oktoberfest celebration. In 2004, Larimer Square held the second annual La Piazza dell’Arte, an event that features professional, amateur and student artists who over the course of two days transform Larimer Square into a beautiful street museum of bright and colorful images. In addition to the visual feast of La Piazza dell’Arte, guests enjoy music, Italian food and beverages. By bringing this colorful event to Denver, Larimer Square has created a new reason for tourists to visit the city.

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2003

 

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

The Cherry Creek Arts Festival has become Colorado’s signature cultural event and the largest 4th of July event in the state, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the Cherry Creek Shopping District for three days of art, food, music and cultural events. The Arts Festival offers visitors a rare opportunity to meet and talk with exhibiting artists who work in virtually every medium, including ceramics, digital art, painting, photography, mixed media, sculpture and more. The festival has become one of the most competitive outdoor juried arts festivals in America – and one of the most recognized, consistently being ranked as one of the top arts festivals in the nation. Last year, the International Festivals and Events Association presented the Cherry Creek Arts Festival with seventeen awards in thirteen categories. They were competing for these awards with 223 of the world’s top festivals and events. The Cherry Creek Arts Festival functions year-round, fulfilling its mission to provide access to the arts. Through its annual programs, the Art Festival brings art education to more than 85,000 people a year. For creating a major cultural event that has brought international prestige to the city, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival is a Denver & Colorado Tourism Star.

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Cleo Parker Robinson — Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble

As a young girl in Denver, Cleo suffered from medical difficulties and was told by doctors that she would remain bedridden her entire life. Cleo refused to believe that. To overcome the pain of her body, she threw herself into dance and by the age of 15 she was teaching dance at the University of Colorado. Today, she is the artistic director and choreographer of one of America’s most respected and well-known dance groups – the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble – a group she created in 1970. The mission of this ensemble is to foster appreciation and develop new audiences for dance. In the process of doing that, Cleo has also developed Denver’s reputation in the arts on both a national and international scale.

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Peter Meersman — Colorado Restaurant Association

Peter Meersman has been the president and CEO of the 1,700-member Colorado Restaurant Association since 1989, helping to grow and transform Colorado restaurants into one of the state’s major industries. Today, Colorado restaurants generate $7.3 billion in annual sales and employ over 169,000 workers – four out of every ten retail workers are employed at one of Colorado’s 9,000 restaurants. In 2002, consumers spent $20 million a day in Colorado restaurants, generating $438 million in state and local sales taxes. As a leader and spokesperson for this industry, Peter has been instrumental in helping Colorado’s restaurant growth outpace the nation, even in these challenging economic times. His ProStart program to help high school students prepare for careers in the restaurant industry won a national award, as did his Dine Out to Help Out fund-raiser, which helped bring Colorado restaurants together in the aftermath of September 11. The new Big Bite program was launched last summer to raise money for charities that fight hunger, and CRA has been on the frontlines of water conservation since the beginning of Colorado’s drought. For leadership in one of the state’s more important industries, Peter Meersman is truly a Denver and Colorado Tourism Star.

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park

Since 1941, Red Rocks Amphitheatre has been one of Denver’s top attractions, but in 2003 the spectacular concert venue entered a new era with the opening of the new 30,000 square foot Visitor Center and Museum. Built to harmonize with the beauty of the surroundings, the new center will become a premium location for receptions, meetings and conferences, accommodating up to 2,000 people. The new Ship Rock Grille will become one of Denver’s most unique restaurants. A new Hall of Fame gallery will tell the geological history of the rocks…and the history of the rock ‘n roll that has taken place here. The new visitor center will be open year-round and will offer coordinated tours between Red Rocks and the Coors Brewery in Golden and Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison for a genuine Colorado adventure.

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Tom Healy — United Airlines

For more than a decade, Tom Healy has been a leader in Denver’s tourism industry. As the general sales manager for United Airlines in Denver, Tom was responsible for United Airline’s sales efforts with travel agents, corporations and at the ten United ticket offices in the Front Range area. He served as chairman of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1996, a crucial period in the convention center expansion process. He also served as chairman of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Foundation, helping to establish the Salute to Tourism Stars gala as the preeminent tourism industry event, while building a substantial base for future scholarships to students pursing careers in travel. His generous contributions on behalf of United Airlines have helped virtually every charitable organization in Denver.

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2002

 

Colorado Avalanche / 2001 NHL All-Star Game

One of the most exciting events in Denver’s professional sports history took place on February 4, 2001, when the NHL All-Star Game at the Pepsi Center set an all-time record with 26 goals. But there was a lot more action in Denver that week than on the ice. The NHL All-Star Weekend and NHL FANtasy, January 31-Feb. 4, 2002, attracted 85,000 visitors and fans to a series of exciting and colorful downtown events that turned a normally slow period for Denver into boom times. Hotels and restaurants were full, and Denver received worldwide media coverage. This excitement was continued when the Colorado Avalanche went on to win the 2001 Stanley Cup. For an entire year, Denver was the place for professional hockey with an event and world championship that brought media attention and economic benefits to the Mile High City.

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Denver March PowWow

With 1,600 dancers from 98 tribes the Denver March PowWow is one of the nation’s largest gatherings of Native Americans – and one of the most colorful. Indians from 38 states and three Canadian provinces come together in the Mile High City to sing, to dance and to honor the heritage that has been passed down to them from their ancestors. Now in its 28th year, the Denver March PowWow attracts more than 60,000 spectators, who attend to see the dancing competitions, sample Native American foods, shop among 170 traders for Native American arts, jewelry and merchandise and immerse themselves in this fascinating culture. With 68 different drum groups keeping the beat and signing traditional songs, while hundreds of dancers are on the floor, it is an amazing spectacle of color, beauty and history. Longwoods research shows that one of the key reasons people visit cities instead of other destinations is that they want to see cultural events, sample new foods and experience something they can’t see at home. The Denver March PowWow provides all these experiences, making it a worthy winner of a 2002 Tourism Star.

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Mary Mitchell — Mary Mitchell Presents

Mary Mitchell has been a staple of Denver’s hospitality community for more than 25 years. As the owner of Mary Mitchell Presents, she has probably brought more music and entertainment to the Mile High City than any other person. She has booked some of the top name acts in the music industry and represented hundreds of local musicians, entertainers and singers, arranging entertainment programs for many of the top conventions that have come to Denver in the past quarter century. But more important, Mary has been a champion of Denver’s hospitality community with strong involvement and dedication to all of the industry’s trade associations. She has been a Bureau board member for seven years, is the current vice president of HSMAI Mile High Chapter (having also served as their president), and is a board member of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, a group that inducted her into their Hall of Fame in 2001. With her British bulldog spirit and diligent support of the industry, Mary has become a legend in Denver’s entertainment field, and a deserving winner of the Tourism Star award.

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Noel Cunningham — Strings Restaurant

It is hard to imagine anyone who has brought greater credit to the hospitality industry or done more to help feed Denver’s less fortunate than Noel Cunningham. His work on behalf of Share Our Strength has made this annual fundraiser for the hungry and homeless one of Denver’s most successful fundraising events. Noel is also involved in “Quarters for Kids” – a program that educates children about hunger relief. Since its inception, the program has raised over 114,000 quarters for children in shelters. In 2001, he once again stepped up to the plate to help Habitat for Humanity’s Women Building a Legacy project. This program brought hundreds of women volunteers to Denver to build five houses for low income families. Denver’s hospitality community hosted the group and was faced with the daunting challenge of feeding over 300 volunteers twice a day for seven days. Through his efforts, breakfast and lunch were supplied every day to every volunteer. He was instrumental in contacting area restaurants, securing donations, coordinating delivery and serving many volunteers. Without his help, the meals would not have been possible.

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John Hickenlooper — Wynkoop Brewing Company

When John Hickenlooper was laid off as a geologist in the mid-1980s, Denver was still living under archaic laws dating back to the days of prohibition that prohibited brewing and selling beer in the same establishment. John decided to open Colorado’s first brew pub. The rest is history. Today, the Wynkoop Brewing Co. is recognized as the largest in the United States, second largest in the world. Denver has gone from a city of having no brewpubs to being considered the “Napa Valley of Beer,” the home of the nation’s largest beer festival and America’s largest beer-producing city. John Hickenlooper played a role in all this development. He first lobbied to change the brewing laws, then opened Colorado’s first brewpub in an area that would come to be called “LoDo.” As an urban pioneer, he built some of LoDo’s first lofts and is credited with leading the re-development of this area, which now ranks as Denver’s second most popular tourist attraction. From development of LoDo to the creation of Denver’s microbrewing industry, John Hickenlooper has proven himself a Denver tourism star.

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2001

 

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

In 1988, NEWSED produced Denver’s first Cinco de Mayo – Celebrate Culture Festival along Santa Fe Boulevard to showcase Mexican heritage and the economic turnaround of the neighborhood. No one could have predicted the success this festival would enjoy. By 1995, the festival had outgrown its neighborhood location and was moved a few blocks to Denver’s Civic Center Park. . Today, it has grown to become the largest outdoor Cinco de Mayo Celebration in the United States, attracting a two-day attendance of 450,000 people. It is ranked as one of the top three celebrations in Colorado and has become a major tourism event drawing visitors from throughout the state, the region and the world. . Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of freedom and culture. It commemorates the victory of a heroic people in their struggle for freedom. It is also one of Denver’s most colorful and popular festivals that has enriched the cultural diversity of the city.

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Denver Center for Performing Arts Production of Tantalus

The acclaimed world premiere of Tantalus, a spectacular 10-part play about the follies of war and mankind, has placed Denver at the heart of the international stage and forever changed the world’s perception of theatre in the Mile High City. Funded by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and presented by the Denver Center Theatre Company in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Tantalus is unlike any undertaking in the history of the theatre. More than 160 journalists from five countries produced articles and stories about Tantalus that reached 276 million newspaper readers, 63 million magazine readers, 16 million radio listeners and 2 million television viewers. Theatre patrons from 44 states and 12 countries traveled to Denver to see this piece of theatrical history. Time Magazine ranked Tantalus as one of the ten best theatrical productions of 2000. The Chicago Tribune called it “a landmark theatrical event,” while The New York Times wrote that Tantalus was “a theatrical feast of a production.” . Perhaps best summing up why Tantalus is a Tourism Star was the report from the London Times that said Tantalus “will become one of those have-to-have-been-there events.” Thousands of international and domestic visitors were here, making this production one of Denver’s great Tourism Stars.

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Ilene Kamsler

For the past 15 years, Ilene Kamsler has been the executive vice president of the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, the premier trade association for the lodging industry in Colorado. The 1990s were an amazing decade for Denver’s hotel industry. From 1990 to 2000, the lodging supply in metro Denver increased by 50 percent, while demand increased 70 percent. Throughout this period of incredible growth, Ilene has been the spokesperson for Colorado’s hotel industry. Whether fighting for a new funding mechanism for state tourism promotion, supporting the expansion of the Colorado Convention Center or representing the industry on numerous panels and boards, Ilene has been a powerful voice for the state’s second largest industry.

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Millennium Celebration 2000

When Denver Mayor Wellington Webb decides to throw a party, get ready for the event of the century. An estimated 250,000 people came to the 16th Street Mall to celebrate the true millennium, while hundreds of thousands more watched the biggest party in Denver’s history on television. Hotels were sold out, restaurants set business records, and the entire family-style event was fun, safe and an explosion of color and sound. . Two of the world’s most renowned fireworks experts designed the show at the D&F Tower, firework artist Pierre-Alain Hubert of France and Gary Caimano of Western Enterprises. Private contributions were solicited to pay for a large percentage of the event, while Denver’s cultural facilities opened their doors with a free day. Traffic planners, police and safety officials orchestrated an event that kept downtown safe, fun and open for business.

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National Western Stock Show

The National Western Stock Show has become such a fixture in Denver that it is hard to imagine January without it. The first stock show was held in 1906 and attracted 15,000 people, who came to the site in the Denver Stockyards by horse drawn carriage and steam locomotives. The rodeo was added in 1932 and in 1953, the Denver Coliseum was dedicated with the Westernaires making their first appearance. By 1991, the Expo Hall and Stadium Hall had opened and in 1995 the Events Center became one of the nation’s top state-of-the-art equestrian arenas. In 2000, the all time attendance record was set with 631,801 paid admissions, helping to make this event the world’s largest stock show and indoor rodeo. But equally important, the National Western has become the largest single economic driver for Denver in January, making it a true Tourism Star.

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2000

 

Paul Stewart — Black American West Museum & Heritage Center

As he is fond of telling the story, when he grew up as a boy in Iowa, Paul Stewart was always made an “Indian” when playing “cowboys and Indians” because his friends said there were no Black cowboys. Years later, while working as a barber in Denver, Paul met an older African American cowboy who had worked on the great cattle drives. From him, Paul learned that not only were there Black cowboys, but that about a third of the cowboys on the great cattle drives were African Americans, many of them freed slaves who migrated west after the Civil War. This encounter started Paul on a life-long quest that was to take him over 100,000 miles around the country. Armed with a tape recorder, he sought out and interviewed every living Black cowboy he could find. He collected old photographs, guns, boots, clothing, uniforms and anything he could discover that was used by Black pioneers in the West. At first, his collection was housed on a Denver campus and finally it was loaned as the founding collection to the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center. Located in the former home of Dr. Justina Ford (Denver’s first Black woman doctor), the museum has been able to tell the forgotten story of Black cowboys, as well as detail all the contributions that African Americans have made in settling the West. Smithsonian Magazine wrote a 10-page article about Paul and his collection, calling it one of the best collections of Black history in America. The museum he founded has been featured in dozens of magazines and television programs and is influencing the way the history of the West is being taught in schools and portrayed in films. In fact, a character based on Paul Stewart was used in a recent Hollywood movie, The Posse, to introduce the story of Black cowboys and lawmen in the Old West. Paul Stewart has been a great credit to Denver’s tourism industry, creating a museum that has generated press around the world and brought to life an exciting chapter of American history.

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Colorado's Ocean Journey

In its first year, this $93 million world class aquarium attracted more than three quarters of a million visitors, creating a major new attraction for Denver and an important reason for visitors to stay longer in the city. Ocean Journey brings to Denver an exciting new appeal since it is the only aquarium in the Rocky Mountain region. The facility generated an amazing amount of publicity across the country and around the world, proudly proclaiming that after 70 million years, the ocean has returned to Denver.

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Denver Art Museum

With their block buster Impressionism show, the Denver Art Museum set new attendance records in 1999, attracting visitors from throughout the region and across the nation. The approval of their expansion in 1999 will allow the Museum to attract even more large international art exhibits in the future, as well as showcase more of their permanent collection. Already considered one of the top tourist attractions in Denver, the Art Museum is to be commended for the work they have done in bringing major international art exhibitions to Denver.

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Denver Pavilions

This $100 million, two square block entertainment center opened little more than a year ago, and already its gigantic “Denver” sign is becoming one of the most popular photographic images of the Mile High City. With its extended late-evening hours, numerous special events, colorful design and exciting mix of retail and entertainment, the Pavilions has transformed the southern end of the 16th Street Mall, creating a vibrant new “after dark” entertainment center for visiting tourists and convention delegates.

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Senator Elsie Lacy

Senator, State of Colorado (1993 – 2000)
Tourism is the second largest industry in Colorado and yet Colorado is the only state in the nation without a state-funded tourism office. Senator Lacy is changing that. Starting in 1997, she was responsible for tourism promotional funding being added to the State’s annual budget with $2.1 million in 1997, $1 million in 1998 and $5 million in 1999. She is the Senate sponsor of HB1224 which will combine the Colorado Travel & Tourism Authority and the Colorado Tourism Board into one new agency, the Colorado Tourism Office. This will create one official state tourism office for Colorado for the first time since 1993. A native of Las Animas and a State Senator since 1992, Elsie Lacy is currently chairman of the Joint Budget Committee and Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

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1999

 

Cherry Creek Shopping Center

The Cherry Creek Shopping Center was once again the top tourist attraction in Denver for 1997. Rather than being content with its ranking, Cherry Creek continues to upgrade and expand its facilities. In 1998, Cherry Creek brought to Denver the city’s first Rainforest Café, Billy Martin and Tiffany & Co. among many other new stores. Cherry Creek continues to set the standard for high class, high quality shopping in the metro Denver area.

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Colorado Rockies Baseball Club / 1998 All-Star Game

The Colorado Rockies played their first game in Denver in 1993, and have since broken every attendance record in Major League Baseball. In addition to bringing major league excitement to Denver and Colorado, Coors Field has acted as an economic catalyst for LoDo, helping to start one of the most incredible downtown revitalization’s in history. In 1998, the Rockies and Coors Field again put Denver on the map by bringing the All-Star Game to the city, which drew thousands of people to Denver and generated $40 million in spending.

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Denver Museum of Natural History

The Denver Museum of Natural History has consistently set new records for attendance as one of the city’s premiere attractions. In 1998, the blockbuster IMAX® production of “Everest” drew over 650,000 people to the museum. In addition to its permanent exhibits such as the award-winning “Prehistoric Journey,” the museum continually brings in new and exciting exhibits several times a year to entertain both Denver citizens and visitors alike.

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John Schafer — Hyatt Regency Denver Hotel

A tireless leader in the hospitality community, John Schafer helped make Denver a first-class destination for both business and leisure travelers. In 1991 and 1996, he chaired the Tourism, Arts and Entertainment Committee for the Mayor’s Downtown Task Force and also served as the chair of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. John was recently named General Manager of the Year for 1998 by Hyatt. He was also responsible for the Denver Alliance 1000, which brought the Hyatt and Marriott City Center together to answer the demand for a 1,000 room convention center hotel. His philanthropic work with Denver and the arts community, partnered with his efforts on behalf of the hospitality industry, makes John one of Denver’s 1998 Tourism Stars.

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