John Denver statue finds new home at Red Rocks | SummitDaily.com

John Denver statue finds new home at Red Rocks

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

John Denver's statue will soon have sunshine on its shoulders again.

The statue, "Spirit," has been in storage since it was removed from the former Windstar property in Old Snowmass in September 2013. The 1,500-pound statue was donated to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is close to completing its relocation from the First Bank Center in Broomfield to Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison. "Spirit" will be placed outside the Trading Post, where the hall is setting up shop.

"It is kind of a dream to know he's in a safe place and people from all over the world will be able to enjoy such an icon," said Karman Dopslaff, a member of a committee that was formed to decide how to handle the former Windstar Foundation's assets, including the statue. Windstar was a think tank and activism organization founded by Denver. Windstar was dissolved in 2012.

Denver was an immensely popular singer and songwriter who was one of the most popular performers of the 1970s. He was known around Aspen for his environmental activism and humanitarianism.

He died Oct. 12, 1997, when his experimental aircraft crashed in California. Windstar, which was already struggling, languished without his leadership.

Recommended Stories For You

The "Spirit" statue features Denver wearing a protective glove and sleeve with his arm outstretched as an eagle prepares to land. A guitar is strapped to Denver's back. The bronze statue stands more than 15 feet tall. It was erected at Windstar in 2002 but had to be removed when the property was sold.

Dopslaff said Red Rocks is the perfect place for "Spirit" to land. The venue was Denver's favorite. He once said he wished he could perform concerts only there and have fans flown in from around the world, according to Dopslaff.

"Once I knew he said that, I was driven to get him to Red Rocks," she said.

Denver also was the first inductee when the Hall of Fame opened in April 2011. His song, "Rocky Mountain High," is Colorado's official state song.

G. Brown, director of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, said the foundation for the statue has been poured. It will be moved into place Thursday and polished Friday. There is no ceremony planned yet for the unveiling of the statue because considerably more work must be performed, he said. Stonework must be laid at the base and a plaque must be erected.

Brown said he wishes that John Denver fans would remain patient until all the work is finished, but signs indicate many of them will show up at Red Rocks this weekend.

News of the statue going up has already spread on Facebook. Fan Christine Moon posted an update about the statue status by Jennifer Moore on the Friends of John Denver public group Facebook page Tuesday. Moore wrote she is "SO excited" about the statue going up and that the huge rocks of the amphitheater will be visible behind the statue.

"This is really going to be a great place for Spirit to live," Moore wrote in a lengthy post. "Once again, John will be able to: 'sing to the skies … the Rockies are living, they will never die.'"

Forty-two fans added comments onto Moon's post with Moore's comments. "I an (sic) looking forward to seeing it back up. My whold (sic) body has chills just thinking about this. (Love symbol) Really missed seeing him last year for sure," wrote Mary Ann Saur.

Saur and fans similar to her won't have to wait much longer. Brown said a contractor has the equipment ready to move John Denver to his new home.

WINDSTAR PROCEEDS BENEFIT NONPROFITS

An organization that is dispersing funds raised from the sale of John Denver’s Windstar property has awarded grants to nine Aspen-area nonprofits this year.

The John Denver Aspen Glow Fund gave $763,500 in grants for 2015. It has awarded $4 million since the Windstar Foundation property in Old Snowmass was sold in April 2013, according to Karmen Dopslaff, one of three supervisors of the fund.

“The spirit of Windstar lives on through all these projects,” Dopslaff said.

The nonprofits that received grants this year were The Manaus Fund, $300,000; Lucky Day Animal Rescue, $45,000; Huts for Vets, $45,000; Children and Nature Network, $45,000; Aspen TREE, $36,000; Rock the Earth, $81,000; The Buddy Program, $27,000; Roaring Fork Conservancy, $180,000; and Climb for Conservation, $4,500.

The fund has $56,767 remaining.

The Windstar Land Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Institute split the proceeds of the $8.5 million sale of the Windstar property. RMI used its funds to help build a new innovation center and office in Basalt. The conservancy put its entire share of funds into the John Denver Aspen Glow Fund. The fund is administered by the Aspen Community Foundation.

Dopslaff said the nonprofits that have received grants undertake projects or causes that she and the other supervisors believe John Denver would have supported. She’s proud that the fund has provided seed money for so many great causes over the last three years.

“It’s all up and down the valley,” Dopslaff said.

— by Scott Condon