Will summer 2012 be Durango’s best, most memorable?

I am sure my thoughts of spring are much different than yours. For starters, those milder temperatures and longer daylight hours do not call me to spread my lunch blanket on Buckley Park’s lawn. What calls me is the desk phone, smartphone and email mailbox that includes those annoying automated meeting reminders. I have two baskets on my desk marked IN and IN DEEPER, and they are both overflowing.

While the Colorado Rockies begin their season-long 162 baseball games, Durango organizers are busy preparing for at least that same number of events and new attractions.

Durango’s downtown business office has been reviewing the details of dozens of our most favorite annual downtown events such as the Wine Experience, Taste of Durango, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Durango Farmers Market and numerous others. All the events, named and unnamed, require hundreds of hours of year-round planning and preparation.

Last year’s most popular newbie event, Beer Week, will return. Also, the Double Double marathon returns, as does and the priceless car collection of the Colorado Grand. Also in the works is the construction of a large concert area located at the new Youth Baseball field above the Animas River pumping plant.

In the last month, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango Area Tourism Office and Durango Business Improvement District introduced the well-attended Southwest Tourism Summit 2012, and we hosted successful festivals of film, chocolate and bluegrass, as well as the prognosticating Tug of Weather.

But if size matters, Durango will blow the doors off this year with three really big projects, namely hosting the start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the incredible Durango Connects human chain and the opening of the Durango Welcome Center.

The week before the Aug. 20 cycling race, the community will host large crowds, international media and world-class athletes complete with bike expo, dedications, celebrations, entertainment and plenty of high-energy buzz.

Of completely different vibe, the Durango Connects event Sept. 26 will attempt to celebrate the completion of Durango’s seven-mile long river trail with 8,000 people joining hands from end to end.

Finally, the power of Durango-style collaboration brought together Fort Lewis College, DATO, BID and the city of Durango to open a full-time, year-round, full-service welcome center in the heart of downtown.

The Welcome Center is scheduled to open by Memorial Day and will become the one-stop location for visitor information, local business promotion, event ticket sales, FLC information and public services.

So, when my family reminded me that in June our son will graduate from culinary school, and this fall, our daughter will get married in England and later graduates from graduate school, I said, “Is that all?” And I added three more events to the list.

kunkelra@cidurango.co.us Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango and executive director of the Business Improvement District.