Where hens and stags roam downtown

Last month, a lot of time, energy and treasure was spent hosting a major international event that created a good bit of commentary around many a kitchen table. No, not that little bicycle thingy, but the marriage of our daughter, Bailey Kunkel to Gary Bratton.

It didn’t all start here, it started more than a year ago when while on vacation from classes in London, Bailey popped into the famous St. George’s Tavern for lunch. Gary, a Newcastle, England, native, was also in London on business.

They conversed, kept in touch, dated often and fell in love. Returning to London one year to the day, hour and minute later, they sat at the same table, ordered the same lunch, and the young Mr. Bratton, down on one knee, asked the time-honored question.

In response, the girl from Durango said: “Yes.”

Of course, the venue was a Harry Potter castle look-alike, the wedding was perfectly planned, the sun broke through the mist for the only two hours that week, and everything was either “lovely” or “brilliant.”

Now we have an extended family of fun-loving Brits to enjoy. And the Brits have more reasons to dress up and have fun than the queen has birthdays.

For example, the “getting married” business in England seems to be big business.

There are more bridal and tuxedo shops on corners than Starbucks. During our two weeks in the heart of downtown Newcastle-on-the-Tyne, large groups of soon-to-be brides and grooms would roam freely on the town. In the States, we call them bachelor and bachelorette parties, while the Brits call them hen and stag parties.

Seven nights of the week, hens and stags dressed to the nines or wearing outrageously clever costumes, are out having an outrageously good time. I have to admit, we may need to up our party game if we are going to keep pace with the redcoats.

While the Brits do party heartily, I was impressed by some of the accepted norms of a night on the town.

Most people walked or took public transit to their favorite restaurants and pubs because there is no tolerance for drinking and driving, with very stiff penalties imposed for violators, and almost every pub has a doorman (a very large doorman) who maintains order and denies entry to those who have had enough fun.

Because indoor smoking bans have universally been adopted, there is a lot of cigarette litter outside, offset by more overnight sidewalk and street cleaning.

All in all, people are just people. Durango has its chickens and bears, and England has hens and stags.

Let’s go downtown for a pint, and talk about it.


kunkelra@cidurango.co.us Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango.