Human chain

Not all special events need to be money makers; some can just be good-spirited fun

The city of Durango’s policy on special events seems unclear. Do all events have to boost sales tax revenue? Or is it that events primarily for locals are suspect because those are the same irresponsible people who nixed the LPEA franchise agreement and cost the city $600,000 per year?

The city of Durango’s reaction to a proposal from an organization called Durango Connect raises such questions. The plan is to celebrate the linking of all seven miles of the Animas River Trail – and demonstrate a little unity at a time when the nation is divided in so many ways – by holding hands and forming a human chain to stretch the length of the trail. The event is planned for 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26. It is expected to involve 5,000 local students and 2,000 to 3,000 adults.

That seems innocent enough. A show of unity at the high point of what is sure to be a hard-fought and divisive election would be healthy and positive.

Celebrating the linking of the river trail would also be appropriate. The trail is a great and wildly popular amenity put together over years under a variety of city councils. It is a welcome reminder of what people can accomplish by working together.

The city, however, questions whether it can handle the event. August’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge will leave no time for planning and preparing for the human chain. Officials also say the loss of the franchise fee money has left the city unable to cope with Durango Connect’s event.

That smacks of petulance. The city can handle an influx of 20,000 people at the height of tourist season, but a few thousand locals holding hands is too much?

Besides, it is hard to see what costs would be incurred. No one is asking the city for money, street closures or any additional services. And people who would take time in the middle of the day to hold hands seem unlikely to litter, let alone riot.

Durango Connect’s organizer has described his plan as “rainbows and unicorns.” City officials should accept that, smile and move on to more pressing issues.