City of Cripple Creek Ends Silence Over Veterans Rally Shoot-out


Creek Officials Won’t Get Involved in Refereeing Event Disputes


Rick Langenberg

Faced with a growing dispute between organizers/supporters of the Salute to American Veterans Rally and a few other local organizations, Cripple Creek city officials have taken an official stand.


More notably, they are endorsing a familiar festival and tradition that brings thousands to the community every August, but don’t want to get involved in refereeing future event-related fights.


This ends a lengthy silence that was sparking much criticism from some staunch Salute Rally supporters, even fueling a petition campaign.


But the prospects of a peaceful truce among certain conflicting organizations regarding a future Salute Rally or related events doesn’t appear promising.


At last week’s council meeting, Interim Cripple Creek City Administrator Ray White read line-by-line a press release/letter issued by the city  last week that reinforced their support of the Salute to American Veterans Rally and the town’s pro-military and veteran’s stand.


“The city of Cripple Creek has a long-standing tradition of supporting our military veterans, veteran’s organizations, and events. A highlight of the city’s recognition for our veterans has been our support of the annual Salute to American Veterans event,” stated the city in an official press release/letter regarding this situation. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, the city was forced to cancel this premier event in 2020.  The financial impacts of the pandemic eliminated the city’s ability to financially support all special events, including the Salute to American Veterans for 2021, and with the exception of the 4th of July. Several social media posts have suggested these cancellations were the result of the city’s lack of appreciation for our veterans. These divisive posts were wrong and in no way reflect the city’s actual position.”


Moreover, the release letter (published in this week’s issue of TMJ) makes it clear that the city views the Salute Rally as a popular event and suggests that the city may be in better position to help sponsor the Rally  and veteran recognition efforts in 2022.


In a later interview, White said the release/letter was issued to help defuse a fight that has persisted on social media. He reiterated that the city doesn’t want to engage in or help fuel any disputes between local and competing organizations.  White said the city’s commitment is towards supporting military veterans and that it takes special pride in the Memorial Wall, which recognizes  veterans in the region who have died overseas since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 2001.


Time for a New Approach

Leaders of another group, called the Gold Camp Association, have suggested that the city should consider another financial model, instead of continuing to pour big dollars into subsidizing events that generate large crowds, especially during the current pandemic. They want to coordinate the efforts of local nonprofits, and help sponsor smaller events.


“The event business model (with the previous Salute Rally) was obviously not working for several reason—the city did not have the revenue and staff to sponsor the large events, the assembly of large crowds wouldn’t be safely approved during the pandemic, and the small volunteer base of each community organization could not take on an event by themselves,” stated the Gold Camp Association, in a recent letter (published this week in TMJ). “The concept of the ‘Gold Camp Association’ (GCA) was pushed forward to loosely organize the local non-profit players, pull their volunteer resources together, look for creative ways to run an event on virtually no budget, and safely bring visitors to Cripple Creek.  The GCA currently consists of the Two Mile High Club, Teller Rifles, Victor-Cripple Creek American Legion Post 171, and Post 171 Riders.”


The group cited their success in helping to raise $8,000 for the care of the town donkeys during 2020, with a new event approach that didn’t rely on government monies. They stressed that they do not oppose the Salute Rally, but cited the need for pursing a new financial model for having events that benefit local nonprofits.


White, however, declined comment on the group’s recent letter. He reiterated a familiar stand that if any group wishes to come forth and propose an event this year, the city will help in a limited support capacity.


According to White, the city is not in a position to act as an event sponsor or funder. “We have not cancelled any events,” said White. He said that due to current financial and health concerns, the city just can’t act as a sponsor of festivals or events this year.


“We will  review any plan for  a special event,” said the city administrator. To date, he stated that the city has not received any event requests from the Gold  Camp Association.