America SCORES Denver focuses its afterschool efforts on 10 urban-area schools, where more than 30% of students entering the fourth grade are unable to read and write at their grade level. Young participants get 10 times the average amount of exercise for those in their age group as they sprint and kick their way through organized soccer games and practices, which alternate with more than 60 hours of afterschool poetry workshops. Student-led service projects hatch into fruition each spring. Children most in need of the SCORES program's services often come from low-income families, and nearly half of the children in the program are unable to afford its registration fee, which helps compensate the teachers and coaches leading the organization's workshops and teams.
Co-founded more than 20 years ago by Carol McKelvey—wife of acclaimed comedian George McKelvey—and managed by a team of fresh new faces, Wits End Comedy Club serves as a meeting place for Denver-area laugh lovers. Local and touring comedians drop in via parachutes Thursday–Saturday, wowing patrons with sidesplitting standup and expertly stuck landings, and a frequently updated calendar keeps showgoers abreast of future performances. James Ervin Berry (May 3–5) coats his raunchy riffs in easygoing charm as he explores his romantic successes and failures through his signature, laid-back wit. Rollicking hypnotist Don Barnhart (May 10–12) completely immerses audiences in his comedy routine, sinking intrepid volunteers into hypnotic states before orchestrating zany situations with impish suggestions. Mark Poolos (May 17–19), star of the independent film Attack of the Killer Snow Cone Zombies, reflects on the world's absurdities with a bemused cynicism, offering up observational humor interspersed with self-deprecating cracks.
Established in 1908, Lakeside Amusement Park maintains its turn-of-the-century charm while embracing modern amenities and attractions. An adrenaline-pumping drop tower and a slew of neon-hued, spinning rides contrast the classic joy of a wooden roller coaster, which rises from its perch near the lake.
The all-ages park also comprises Kiddies' Playland, a place where tots can get their fun fix on boats, animal-themed rides, and pint-sized motorcycles. The facility also accommodates large groups with on-site picnic grounds perfect for birthday parties or applesauce fights.
Beth and Jim Trammell started 5280 Gymnastics to share their love of gymnastics with students young and old, novice and expert, casual and competitive. They assembled an elite team of coaches that trained Olympic gymnast Sasha Artemev and placed graduates on the gymnastics teams at Stanford University, into officer's education at West Point, and onto the diving team at Northwestern University. Under this refined tutelage, the two USA Gymnastics teams that regularly train within 5280's confines took home awards at regional, state, and national levels of competition.
The owners and coaches recognize that not everyone desires to train for peak levels of gymnastics competition, and so the range of classes encompasses plenty of other options, including casual, confidence-inspiring play for tots and free running and parkour classes for older students. During the summer, daily camps keep kids busy during sunny hours with athletic games and arts-and-crafts projects such as building a balance beam out of popsicle sticks.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or cha-cha. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur fire walking.
Expert gourmand Jackie Rebideau has a peculiar passion for cheese. In an effort to share this ardor with the public, she created Fromage to Yours, a company that holds classes and special events to educate people about this celebrated edible. In addition to her recently launched grilled cheese food truck, Mobile Meltz, Jackie teaches pupils about the art of making artisan cheeses such as mozzarella, halloumi, ricotta, and paneer, demonstrating tasteful techniques and dispelling myths that the holes in swiss cheese are formed by mini meteors training for future journeys to the moon. Fromage to Yours also orchestrates special events such as the Colorado Cheese Festival, which more than 150 samples of artisanal American cheese.