8,000 people needed to cover Animas River Trail

Durango Connect to have performers

Turner Enlarge photo

Turner

In a display of Durango unity, Democrats and Republicans, polka and jazz musicians, and all kinds of balancing acts, including slackliners and jugglers, are among the more than 6,000 plus hand-holders expected to form a human chain at 10 a.m. Thursday along the Animas River Trail.

Zombies might be the only group excluded from this come-all celebration known as Durango Connect as the Zombie Response Team will be there to make sure they “don’t cause any problems,” said Dylan Jones, a local zombie responder.

But the Zombie Response Team’s specially marked police squad car will be parked underneath the high bridge near the La Plata County Humane Society Thrift Store, 1111 South Camino del Rio, for anyone who wants to act like a zombie and get his or her picture taken.

Goofiness is encouraged for an event intended to be a break from all things serious. Organizer Jack Turner does not want anyone to even feel stressed about needing to “walk a mile” to fill a gap along the trail, especially those whose mobility might be impaired.

“The point is to have a good time,” said Turner, who is feeling good about turnout anyway.

Because local schools, including all public, private and charter schools, have committed, Turner is expecting at least 6,000 school children as a base of support.

“We hope several thousand more turn out,” he said. “We really need eight (thousand) to cover the trail. At this point, the optimist in me says we’ll get 20 (thousand), but the honest-to-God truth is I don’t know.”

The completion this summer of a trail section around a steep slope behind the Durango Mall, which made the river trail contiguous for seven miles, also made Turner want to celebrate the trail as a symbol of community unity.

Organizers are asking people to show up as early as 9:30 a.m. for planning purposes and to plug any gaps in the human chain. Because he is worried that turn out might be sparse at the southern end, especially behind the big box stores such as Home Depot and Walmart, Turner said it would be helpful if people showed up there.

People all along the trail should be entertained as Durango Connect has booked at least 15 different acts, including jazz, blues and polka bands, as well as the jugglers and slack-liners, who do a form of tight-rope walk.

There also will be the spectacle of strange bedfellows coming together.

State Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, has offered to hold hands with his challenger, Mike McLachlan, but all candidates for political office have also been asked not to campaign.

“I think we all want a break from that,” Turner said. “It’s only going to be a few minutes. I think everybody will be in good spirits. It will be typical Durango. I think everybody is really looking forward to it.”

jhaug@durangoherald.com