DENVER — After fighting for 50 years, Denver's Chicano community celebrated a win Sunday when the City of Denver officially renamed Christopher Columbus Park to La Raza Park.
As 'Danzantes Aztecas', or Aztec dancers, brought in the summer with a traditional ceremony, a community came together to also celebrate the park's official name change.
"It makes me feel good, but at the same time, it’s like 20 years too late," said Jay Alire, a Chicano activist in Denver. "It signifies the years of struggle that people have waged to get the name of park."
Alire is part of the La Raza Park Legacy Project. He said the group's purpose is to keep the stories of Denver's Chicano history alive.
"We fought for this park, so that it can be a haven, so that when we do ceremonies like this, our communities can come together and feel proud of who they are," he said.
Alire said it's that same pride in their community that continues to fuel their fight for more recognition of their history and stories.
Alire said renaming the park was only one step forward. Some of their other goals include upgrading the playground with a water park, replacing the pool that was once there, and painting a mural on the basketball floor court. Community leaders also want the park to be declared a historic civil and human rights site.
Denver City Council approved the park's name change in December 2020, but community members have recognized the park as La Raza since the 1970's, during the Chicano Movement in Colorado.
In April 2021, city crews installed the new name plates, but removed them that same day. A Denver Parks and Recreation employee said there was a miscommunication and the city wanted to wait for a celebration and acknowledgement of the park's official renaming.
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