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Nederland’s New Carousel of Happiness Makes for a Happy Family Getaway

Nederland, just 17 miles west of Boulder, retains a reputation for being a hippie town, thanks in part to such well-known, offbeat annual events as the jam-friendly music festival NedFest, happening Aug. 28-29, and winter’s wacky Frozen Dead Guy Days.

But today at 10 a.m., Nederland launches into a new era of being not just a hippie town, but a happy town, too. That’s when the Carousel of Happiness starts to turn, the calliope begins to play, and the face of this community breaks into a smile.

In 1985, Scott Harrison, a Nederland resident, began carving and handpainting carousel animals, and a year later, bought and set about restoring the workings of an old merry-go-round that long ago graced the Saltair amusement park near Salt Lake City.

Since then, with determination, inspiration and idealism, Harrison kept carving and painting animals, restoring the mechanism, and building an energy-smart, 12-sided structure to house it. Over the years, Harrison’s dream became Nederland’s dream. A cadre of dedicated local volunteers joined him to help the project along, investing both sweat equity and financial support.

Why a carousel? When Harrison was in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, his sister sent him a small music box that played Chopin. He has since sought to make the world a more peaceful place. In 1975, against all odds, he and his wife, Ellen Moore, founded and co-directed Amnesty International’s Urgent Action Network to respond to genocides and other human crises around the globe. It now has tens of thousands of members worldwide.

Nederland artist George Blevins, whose angels decorate the carousel house, says of his friend’s upbeat project: “The carousel is one more insane dream in a crazy world. Now let’s finish this and do world peace.”

The Carousel of Happiness provides a new reason to visit this laid-back mountain community with a compact, walk-around downtown. Every one of the roughly 1,500 residents seems to know every other local in this friendly place that time forgot. Visitors can park their vehicles and wander around exploring shops and galleries, and having a remarkable choice of places to eat and relax.

1. Ben’s High Country Emporium

This new-for-Ned store on the east approach to downtown stocks all sorts of items for being

Big exhibits bloom all over town–“Tut,” the Biennial and an outdoor Henry Moore

Call it Denver’s summer of blockbusters.

Three big, very different exhibitions will be duking it out for the public’s attention.

Heading the list is King Tut — an abbreviated name that draws instant recognition and conjures the exoticism, mystery and thrill of ancient Egypt.

The 1922 discovery of the young pharaoh’s untouched, luxurious tomb drew international coverage and sparked a sensation that continues to this day.

The Denver Art Museum is serving as host for the touring show,”Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,” which will open June 29 and run through Jan. 9 — nine days longer than originally announced.

On view will be 50 objects from Tut’s tomb, as well as at least 50 objects related to other Egyptian pharaohs — all on loan from the Cairo Museum in cooperation with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Museum officials have declined to provide projected attendance figures, but its North American premiere in Atlanta last year drew about 400,000 people.

Tickets for the general public are $25 weekdays and $30 weekends, with youth discounts available. They can be purchased at tutdenver.com or 877-888-8587 or 866-461-6556.

Offering a potentially more relaxed and approachable experience is the outdoor exhibition, “Moore in the Gardens,” which continues through Jan. 31 at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Gracefully situated amid the plants and flowers are 20 monumental, mostly bronze works by celebrated British sculptor Henry Moore, ranging in size from a sprawling, white figure 29 1/2 feet long to an intimate piece less than 3 feet tall.

This first major open-air display of Moore’s sculptures in the Western United States is also the largest and most ambitious art exhibition ever mounted by the gardens.

Lisa Eldred, director of exhibitions, hopes the show will attract viewers from across the region and elevate the Botanic Gardens’ 2010 attendance to 1 million visitors — well beyond the record set last year.

Admission is $12.50, $9.50 seniors and military personnel and $9 students and youths. Call 720-865-3500, or visit botanicgardens.org.

Rounding out the three blockbusters is “The Nature of Things,” the main visual-arts component of the Biennial of the Americas, a kind of mini- world’s fair celebrating the culture, ideas and people of the Western Hemisphere.

Details are still being worked out, but more than 30 artists from North America and South America will be featured in galleries in the newly renovated McNichols Building in Civic Center.

The show, which will be accompanied by daily lectures and performances, will run during July. More information is available at biennialofthe americas.org.

A range of exhibitions is taking place at museums and galleries around Denver in conjunction with the biennial. Several of the highlights:

“Energy Effects: Art and Artifacts From the Landscape of Global Excess,” June 30-Sept. 13, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. This exhibition considers the positive side of excess — its ability to produce extraordinary artistic and scientific achievements. 303- 298-7554 or mcadenver.org.

“Liberadores/Liberators,” June 24-Sept. 26, Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive. This show looks at the Founding Fathers in the United States and other leaders who brought freedom the Americas, and asks how the liberation narrative might play a role in meeting today’s challenges. 303-571-4401 or museo.org.

“You Are Here,”July 9-Aug. 20, Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer St. Showcased will be five top talents from Canada’s little- recognized contemporary art scene — Alex McLeod, Luke Painter, Andrew Rucklidge, Brendan Tang and Douglas Walker. 303-296-0927 or plusgallery.com.

“Do Not Cry Over Spilled Dreams,” July 9-Aug. 14, Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive. Exploring notions of recycling and regeneration, Ecuadoran artist Patricia Tinajero will create an installation of milk cartons, newspapers and paper made from scraps of denim and linen. 303- 573-5969 or thesandraphillipsgallery.com.

Three more shows worth checking out

“Works in Passage,”through Aug. 6, Steele Gallery, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, 1600 Pierce St., and through June 18, Emmanuel Gallery, Auraria campus. This joint exhibition will spotlight Italian artist Maria Cristina Carlini’s powerful, monumental sculptures. RMCAD, 303-225-8575 or rmcad.edu and Emmanuel, 303-556-8337 or emmanuelgallery.org.

“Colorado & the West,” through June 30, David Cook Fine Art, 1637 Wazee St. This annual exhibition provides viewers a reliably high-quality look at 19th- and 20th-century art from across the West and Southwest. 303-623-8181 or davidcookfineart.com.

“Mix: CVA + The Art District on Santa Fe,” Thursday-July 3, Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive. Metropolitan State College of Denver’s Center for Visual Art reopens in its new $1.5 million space. 303- 294-5207 or metrostatecva.org

-Kyle MacMillan: 303-954-1675 or kmacmillan@denverpost.com

Behind the Scenes at the 2010 American Idol Finale

Friends, if you look up the word surreal in the dictionary, you will see a photo of me, sitting in the American Idol finale audience. Because that’s what happened this week – thanks to the Ford Fiesta folks* – a night where my best friend and I got all dolled up, sat in the Nokia Theater and watched America make Lee Dewyze our next Idol – and possibly more importantly – witnessed Simon Cowell’s last. show. ever. Of all time.

I started watching American Idol in its second season, long before I had this blog, pretty much right as I was having my son. And the funny thing is, I rarely watch TV. The exception being, you guessed it, American Idol.

Why do I like this show so much?

I have no flippin’ clue.

It’s silly. It’s over the top. It’s snarky.

OK, never mind, I just listed three AWESOME reasons to watch the show right there!

And when I started Greeblemonkey, the American Idol recaps started with it.

I even tried to stop writing them, but you all talked me back into it.

So, when Ford called me up and asked me to come, there was NO WAY I was not going. And I am SO GLAD I did. What a fun, wild, busy, crazy, insane couple of days it has been. Even including a scavenger hunt all over LA in a Ford Fiesta, details of which I will save for another day, because – honestly? At this point I only have enough steam to warble out my thoughts about the American Idol finale.

So here goes.

The Night Before

We flew in Tuesday evening, got settled and had about two hours before

Weekly Event Round-up: Denver Day of Rock, Boulder Creek Festival and More!

Saturday. Salute the nation’s fallen servicemen and women at the Denver Memorial Day parade. A tradition for more than 80 years, the parade includes military personnel and veterans marching through downtown Denver. All branches of the service are represented. The parade is sponsored by the Denver United Veterans’ Council, Denver County Veteran Services Office and the city of Denver. 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Downtown Denver, between Broadway and Welton Street, and 14th Avenue and 17th Street. Admission is free.

Saturday. 4 stages. 20 bands. 1 Day of Rock. You won’t want to miss the 2nd Annual Denver Day of Rock presented by Concerts for Kids. The day will feature 20 bands on four stages placed up and down the 16th Street Mall – all free to the public! SkateLegends.com will be performing demonstrations and there will be interactive booths with local face paint and air brush artists, chalk artists and much more fun for the whole family. 2:30-9:30 p.m. on Saturday. Visit denverdayofrock.com for the complete schedule

Saturday-Monday. Celebrate the start of summer, Boulder style, at the 23rd annual Boulder Creek Festival. A swath of downtown Boulder becomes the festival grounds for three days of food and festivities. It’s enough to fill an afternoon — and an evening: live music, rides, yummy food and shopping, plus a kids’ stage and a teen battle of the bands. A highlight of the festival is the Great Rubber Duck Race at 4 p.m. Monday. Festivalgoers purchase a duck to float down Boulder Creek and win prizes. The money from duck purchases goes to Boulder’s Parks and Recreation Department. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. Bandshell performances and food courts are open until 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Along Boulder Creek, 9th Street to 14th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder. Admission is free. Visit bceproductions.com for more information.

Saturday-Monday. Get ready for fun in the sun at the 31st annual Old South Gaylord Street Memorial Day Festival. Each day of the event starts with a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m., with strolling magicians and balloon art just for kids. Grown-ups are welcome, too, for rockin’ sets by bands like Jockamo, The Neil Bridge 7+ and The Spin. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday through Monday. South Gaylord Street between Tennessee and Mississippi Avenues. Park at South High School, 1700 E. Louisiana Ave., for free and catch a free shuttle to the festival. Admission is free.

Saturday. It’s a Plant Conservation Day party at the Butterfly Pavilion’s Bloomapalooza. The Pavilion will be buzzing — more than usual — with activities for nature lovers of all ages. See demonstrations on all sorts of topics, from beekeeping to composting, join a “garden safari” or get up close with some of the Pavilion’s butterflies. Kids can expend some energy, too, on a climbing wall, a tropical obstacle course, relay races, craft activities and more. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The Butterfly Pavilion, 6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster; 303-469-5441. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors age 65 and older, $5.50 for kids ages 2 to 12. Learn more at butterflies.org.

Saturday-Sunday. Get in the patriotic spirit with Denver Brass at “Fanfare for the American Spirit.” The ensemble’s Memorial Day celebration features the stirring sounds of American composers from Irving Berlin to John Philip Sousa. Expect a couple of Aaron Copland pieces, too: “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “A LIncoln Portrait.” Bring along a can of food to donate and receive $2 off admission. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 Iliff Ave.; 303-871-6200. Tickets are $22-$43 for adults, $19-$37 for students and seniors, $11-$21.50 for kids age 12 and younger. To buy advance tickets, call 303-832-HORN or visit denverbrass.org.

Push to teach “other side” of global warming heats up in Colorado’s Mesa County

A national group that thinks global warming is “junk science” and that teaching it is unnecessarily scaring schoolchildren brought its first petition effort for “balanced education” to Mesa County Schools on Tuesday night.

Rose Pugliese, an unsuccessful candidate for a District 51 school board seat in the last election, presented a petition with 700 signatures to the board asking that science teachers stop giving lessons on global warming.

Pugliese, a 32-year-old Grand Junction attorney and activist in Tea Party and conservative Republican groups, also presented a petition with 600 signatures demanding Mesa County schools keep political views out of classrooms.

Pugliese’s efforts have made her the poster girl for the group Balanced Education for Everyone and have pinpointed Mesa County as a national test case for keeping the teaching of humans’ influence on global warming out of science classes.

“It (global warming) is not a proven scientific theory. There is not evidence to support it,” Pugliese told the board, generating applause from about 40 Tea Party and other conservative group members who filled the room for the first school board petition battle over this issue in the country.

The climate-change deniers scoffed and shook their heads when a scientist

Glenwood Springs’ Adventure Park On Top of a Mountain (and Win a Family Four-pack of Tickets!)

CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER MARY-FRANCES MAIN AND THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

Take the world’s largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool, add an adventure park built on top of a mountain, sprinkle in the Roaring Fork Valley’s crimson rocks and emerald forests and what do you have?

Glenwood Springs’ matchless Shangri-La.

Conveniently located off I-70 between Vail and Aspen, my family has driven through Glenwood Springs multiple times and often marveled at the tram that appeared to go nowhere. Turns out, the Iron Mountain Tramway soars 4,300 feet up Iron Mountain to a big ol’ somewhere: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

The 135-acre park features guided tours of Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves, an alpine coaster, 4-dimensional theater, a laser tag arena, a climbing wall, gemstone sluice box mining, bungee trampolines, a simulated Conestoga wagon ride and more. New this year: The Giant Canyon Swing that launches riders over Glenwood Canyon, 1,300 feet above the Colorado River.

A few of my family’s favorite activities included:

Laser Tag

It was raining when we arrived at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park so we introduced our delighted cowboys to an indoor pursuit: laser tag. This new-fangled shoot-out in an old West setting uses the latest in wireless laser tag technology. With every death announcement, “Nice shot,” our vests would vibrate and my children came one step closer to unleashing their pent-up parental aggressions. For my husband and me, it was all about payback for our many sleepless nights.

Family laser tag is a win-win situation for everyone.

4-dimensional ride theater

I can’t say I’ve seen many movies in 3-D so I was unsure of what to expect at Colorado’s only 4-dimensional ride theater. We were

Denver Deals: JCPenney, Lowe’s, Papa Johns, Orange Julius, & More

Restaurant Deals

Dave & Busters is offering 1/2 price off all games on Wednesdays. The deal will run all summer long so be sure to mark your calendar and visit either of their two Colorado locations.

Orange Julius is offering some summertime relief with a printable coupon for Buy 1 20 oz Smoothie, Get One for $1.

Restaurant.com has their gift certificates available at 80% off!  Grab a $25 gift certificate for only $2!

One day only, Papa John’s is offering 50% off your total bill of $20 or more.  Use the code customer50 at checkout to receive your discount.

Quizno’s current printable coupon is for $2 off a regular or large sub.  This is a good one to use if you’ll be traveling over Memorial Day weekend.  Quizno’s is quick, but won’t leave you feeling guilty for eating out!

Entertainment Deals

Northfield 18 (in Northfield at Stapleton) is selling tickets to 10 kids movies for only $5! The 2010 line-up includes Charlotte’s Web, Shrek The Third, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and many more. Be sure to check out their Web site for details.

Lowe’s is hosting another Build & Grow Workshop this Saturday(May 29th) from 10a.m. until 11a.m.  The kids will be making a racecar this week.

The first weekend of June (June 5-6) admission to all National Parks will be free!  The next free days will be August 14th & 15th.

As I mentioned last week, many of the local farms and attractions will be opening soon.  Check out the Warm Weather guide for summer fun and the 50 free local concerts and attractions!

Grocery & Retail Coupons

Save $10 on any $10 or more purchase at JCPenney when you use the coupon code 4THECITY.  Note, you will have to pay shipping(around $5 or $6).

Save $2 on Sara Lee Deli Fresh Meats when you “Like” them on Facebook.

Need to print some of your great photos?  Here’s a chance to get 120 free photos!

Memorial Day weekend usually brings great grocery sales.  This week Sprouts has cherries on sale for $1.77lb(the lowest price around!), Albertsons is offering great meat and picinic prices, and don’t miss free BBQ sauce and Hansen’s Natural Soda for $1.50 at King Soopers.

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter!

Mile High Mamas Bubble Over With Fun

What happens when 200 Mile High Mamas and their families pop into the Children’s Museum of Denver for a night of bubbling revelry?

Enough good, clean, soapy fun to negate the need for baths that night. Hey, my kids convinced me.

On Wednesday, May 19th, the Children’s Museum of Denver threw open their doors for an after-hours special event in celebration of their new interactive Bubbles playscape. The bubble room was bursting with curious kids of all ages. It’s impossible to find a person who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of bubbles, especially when the museum has discovered so many different ways to have fun with them.

One of the busiest stations of the night was The Drop Zone. This cool contraption blows a fog-filled bubble high above the crowd. When it’s nice and ripe, it drops down. The competition to see who can pop it first can be fierce, but the Mile High families in attendance were great about taking turns. Mom and blogger Melissa Armstrong’s two sons, Elijah, 5, and Miles, 3, were huge fans of The Drop Zone and I can see why. Popping a vapor bubble creates a cloud that quickly dissipates until the next bubble drops.

Mike Jones, a Mile High Papa of 3, was overheard wishing for a home vapor bubble drop machine. They don’t have room in the Children’s Museum gift shop for this addition to the inventory, however.

Another popular station in the exhibit is the Bubble Booth. Superman would blush if he had to do a quick change in this transparent square bubble booth. Kids clamored to stand on the platform, where a rope and pulley configuration raises via kid-power to create a little room of swirly soap and light. I didn’t see any of the Mile High Mamas or Papas trying it (I know they wanted to), but every kid in the room had to try their little hands at building a booth.

Mile High Mamas contributing blogger Lori watched her daughter, Tessa, pitch in to helpfully operate the booth for many smaller kids.

Laura, local blogger and mom of 5 (including 2 sets of twins), declared the Vapor Station as the hit of the night. This amazing contraption squirts vapor filled bubble solution out of a hose and onto a platform, where they can be manipulated to make works of art. Laura’s kids, Pablo, Mallory, Nikki, and Lexi made many, many, many flowers. I didn’t see the final count, but I’m sure there were enough to cover a parade float. She noted they could have stayed there all night.

During the Bubble Over With Fun event, representatives from the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition and The Children’s Hospital were on-hand to talk kid’s health and wellness with the moms and dads in the crowd.

Mile High Mamas and Mom It Forward frequently team up for fun and informative events. There is always a focus on benefitting our community in tangible ways while having fun. If you want to be a part of the next great event, follow Mile High Mamas on Twitter or become a fan at Facebook.

Plant theft from school garden teaches life lessons to students

The newly created vegetable garden at Smith Renaissance School of the Arts in northeast Denver already has taught students a few important life lessons.

First, and obviously, the garden is teaching students about botany and how food is grown.

Second, and unfortunately, students learned a hard truth when someone broke into the garden and stole plants.

The final and heart-warming lesson is one of community, which pulled together to donate plants and made a promise to help keep the garden green over the summer.

“It’s a great lesson that when something bad happens,

Shrek Forever After Review: Ogre and ogre, and ogre and ogre — again

The final chapter in a constantly charming franchise, “Shrek Forever After,” proves what has been increasingly clear in the decade since the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) leapt so famously onscreen from William Steig’s 1990 children’s book:

The animated journey of Shrek, his beloved, Fiona, and Far Far Away buddies Donkey and Puss in Boots is pitched to adults even more than young’uns.

It’s not that kids are an afterthought. Far, far from it. Wee ones are given plenty to giggle about: burping ogre babies, a flatulent father, impossibly winning talking animals, nasty villains with silly grudges and so on.

But the writing has, from the first sequel, been rife with knowing wisecracks for parents and chaperones.

With Far Far Away resembling Hollywood, the double entendres — visual as well as verbal — have been irresistible fodder for the filmmakers. To wit, “Shrek” influenced many pretenders that winked and nudged to lesser effect.

For “Shrek,” catering to the grown- ups makes a sort of sense. After all, many adult ticket buyers were beneficiaries and victims of Grimm fairytales and Cinderella promises. Newer audience members have, we hope, been fed the more thoughtful literary fare.

This fourth film takes the grown- up tilt further, stirring an “It’s a Wonderful Life” dilemma into an often- pleasing, if familiar, brew of pop-cultural nods and fairytale teases. Only instead of contemplating ending it all as George Bailey did, Shrek is merely tricked by Rumpelstiltskin into having never been born.

As the film opens,