Rocky Mountain Vibes Host First Ever Woodland Park Night Out

WP Mayor Throws First Pitch; Council Members Square Off In Bizarre Competition

Trevor Phipps

Sometimes the infamous “City Above the Clouds” and Colorado Springs seem like two different worlds.

But this gap was slightly closed last week during an entertaining night of America’s favorite pastime that showcased the Woodland Park lifestyle and strong community flair.

After local officials heavily publicized their baseball friends down the hill, the Rocky Mountain Vibes hosted an official “Woodland Park Night Out” last Friday at their UCHealth Field in Colorado Springs.

The event created a unique mesh of the two cities, as Woodland Park residents and government officials took the trip down the mountain to enjoy a night of baseball action. Colorado Springs residents on the other hand got a dose of what living in and visiting the mountains can be like.

The stands were packed for the Woodland Park-themed Friday Night Fireworks event with many sporting the City Above the Clouds’ green and white colors.

The game against the Northern Colorado Owlz stayed close throughout the contest with the Vibes coming back from a deficit. But then they gave up a key run in the ninth that went unanswered,  with the Vibes falling short by a close 8-7 margin.

The Vibes’ loss didn’t prevent local fans from enjoying the outing in-between innings and off the field.

After all, minor league ball is more than about the score and winning and losing, with entertainment becoming the major objective.

Even though some fans felt a little down after the game, the spectacular fireworks display afterwards seemed to cheer everyone up.

The Woodland Park Night event came together for the first time this summer through a collaboration between Vibes’ staff and the city of Woodland Park. Throughout the entire game, the City Above the Clouds got ample credit. The event was heavily publicized on the city’s website.

The doors opened at 5:30 p.m. for the game that started at 6:35 p.m. At around 6 p.m., the pre-game festivities started.

 No Shortage of Woodland Park Festivities

To start the pre-game events, the Woodland Park High School Cheerleading squad took the field to give a presentation. The announcers at the field applauded them as the Colorado State Champions in cheerleading before they wowed crowds with their flawless performance.

The cheer squad was followed by a group of parents, coaches, and school staff members providing them support. During one of their routines, the Panthers’ fight song was played over the loud speakers to give Springs’ baseball fans a taste of Panther Pride.

After the cheer team exited the field, the spotlight then turned to Woodland Park Mayor Hilary LaBarre. She was introduced by the on-field MC and then handed the ball to deliver the game’s iconic first pitch.

She wound up and threw, and despite what some naysayers in the crowd predicted, she delivered quite the pitch. In fact, many said it would have been a strike if she had a batter at the plate.

Other Woodland Park dignitaries visiting the game included Mayor Pro Tem Kellie Case, council members Robert Zuluaga, Frank Connors and Catherine Nakai, along with City Manager Michael Lawson, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Suzanne Leclercq, and This Week in the Bear Cave Host Dennis Zerull.

There were also tables set up representing various Woodland Park organizations including the Woodland Aquatic Center, the Woodland Park Police Department and the local nonprofit Community Partnership.

The city was given a number of mentions throughout the game. During one break in-between innings, a picture of City Manager Lawson popped up on the big screen with the words “Farewell!” This is in reference to Lawson’s decision to step down on Aug. 4 as the head city boss to assume a position as the Assistant City Manager of Parker. Lawson has previous roots in the Denver metro area (see related story).

And then probably the most entertaining event of the evening took place after the seventh inning. Councilmembers Zuluaga and Connors faced off against each other in a special Vibes-style competition.

The idea of the contest was that the two council members would square off against each other in a race that combined riding an adult-sized tricycle and a foot race. The two council members were to ride the trikes from first base to the home plate and then race on foot back to their start line.

The race started out with Zuluaga getting a big lead on the bike before he slowed down to let Connors catch up. Once they got to home plate, the two took off running on foot.

Unfortunately, Connors lost his footing and took a dive into the dirt after running a short distance. The kind-hearted Zuluaga returned to help his colleague back to his feet before finishing the race.

Luckily, Connors had a smile on his face the whole time and only succumbed to minor injuries.

The Vibes finished their series against the Owlz on Sunday.  Starting Tuesday they play three home games against the Grand Junction Jackalopes. The Vibes hit the road for a few days on Friday, and then they return for six home games against the Ogden Raptors next Tuesday.