World Youth Day memorial signs in need of repair
By Julie Filby
On Aug. 15, 1993, an estimated half-million pilgrims from around the globe converged on Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora for Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II. The Mass concluded the World Youth Day events hosted by Denver.
To donate to the fund established by the archdiocese, mail checks to: Msgr. Thomas S. Fryar, V.G., Moderator of the Curia, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210.
Checks should be payable to the “Archdiocese of Denver,” noting “WYD monument” in the memo section.
To document this significant event in the area’s history, a series of interpretative signs were installed at the Mass venue near the park’s Butterfly Hill region. After 17 years of wear and tear, the signs are in need of repair.
Cherry Creek State Park and the Archdiocese of Denver are teaming up to replace them.
“The signs are showing their age,” explained park manager Tim Metzger. “Signs left out to the elements with UV rays tend to deteriorate over time and there’s been a little bit of graffiti and vandalism to them as well.”
State park special projects, such as this, can only be accomplished through partnerships.
“There was no way with our budget alone we could replace the signs, and that’s why we reached out,” Metzger said. “We are happy to partner with the Church to replicate the signs and get new fresh ones out there.”
Metzger, park manager the last three years, attended the World Youth Day events at Cherry Creek in 1993. He was recruited to serve as a ranger from a state park he was working at in southern Colorado.
“I remember vividly how important it was,” he said. “I remember how coming here changed people’s lives. It’s a moment in time that should be remembered.”
Many converted and some were inspired to religious life following Denver’s World Youth Day.
“Many graces and blessings were bestowed on the Church of northern Colorado during World Youth Day—and many people decided to join religious life and the priesthood because of it,” said John Miller, associate director of liturgy for the archdiocese. “It’s a very important part of the history of the Archdiocese of Denver, and the history of the state of Colorado.”
There are a total of four signs at the Butterfly Hill gazebo depicting the pope’s Mass, preparations leading up the event and restoration of the land following the event. Several photographers contributed to the signage including James Baca, a 30-year veteran of the Denver Catholic Register staff.
While the park is currently conducting a competitive bid process for sign fabrication, it is estimated each new sign will cost $1,000; bringing the total replacement cost to about $4,000.
“These signs are really all that’s left on the site, and I think we can all agree we could do a better job and get those replaced and spruce the area up a bit,” Metzger said.
For their part, Cherry Creek State Park will prepare necessary graphics and artwork, paint neighboring structures, clean up surrounding vegetation, and refurbish and paint the metal frames that hold the signs.
“It’s important that we can refurbish the frames because (buying new ones) would double or triple the cost of the project,” he said.
Metzger hopes funds will be raised in time to manufacture the signs by winter and install them next spring. In addition, park officials are considering a re-dedication ceremony in August 2011 to celebrate the new signs.
“It would be a way to thank contributors and let them see that something important was done with their donation,” Metzger said. “The signs really tell a great story of what happened, and why it was significant.”
To donate to the fund established by the archdiocese, mail checks to: Msgr. Thomas S. Fryar, V.G., Moderator of the Curia, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210. Checks should be payable to the “Archdiocese of Denver,” noting “WYD monument” in the memo section.