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50 lbs. of prohibited gum scraped off Red Rocks Amphitheatre seats in 2023

DENVER (KDVR) — A nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the iconic Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre has been doing behind-the-scenes dirty work for more than 20 years.

The group, Friends of Red Rocks, is composed of volunteers who have a mission to “preserve the magic of Red Rocks,” volunteer Pia Valeriana told Nexstar’s KDVR.

It was formed in 1999 in response to an initiative to turn the plant boxes and trees beside the normal crowd seating into corporate box seats. Corporate logos would have been projected onto the rocks to raise money to make necessary restorations.

However, the group wanted to find another way to restore and preserve Red Rocks. They weren’t against change, but Valeriana said they wanted to make sure the natural beauty at Red Rocks was preserved and respected. The city listened, and Friends of Red Rocks was created.

Did you know? Gum isn’t even allowed at Red Rocks

About three years ago, venue director Tad Bowman mentioned there was a lot of gum under the seats. Valeriana said the group felt like that was a great thing they could do.

(Credit: Frank Roddy)

Volunteers spend about three hours, once every month, helping rangers with trail work, cleaning up the trails, picking up trash, tending to the native garden and scraping gum — which is prohibited at the venue — off the bottoms of the seats.

“Gum is not even permitted inside the amphitheater, but how do you prevent that? People have it in their purses, in their pockets,” Valeriana said. “We hope that people will chew responsibly and put it in a paper and not to stick it under the seats.”

Each month, even in the winter when there are no concerts at the venue, the gum-scraping crew manages to pile up multiple pounds of gum.

“Dried gum doesn’t hardly weigh anything,” Valeriana said.

Over 2023, they gathered a total of 50 pounds of gum from under the seats.

“It’s disrespectful of this natural wonder we want to preserve in its most pristine way,” she said. “We just want people to be aware, and don’t take this place for granted. This is a unique place.”

How to volunteer to keep Red Rocks beautiful

Friends of Red Rocks is always looking for people to help in the effort. Valeriana said anyone interested can find information and sign up online, or simply show up to a cleanup.

While there is no monetary compensation, she said preserving the magic makes it worth it.

Cleanups take place on the last Saturday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The group typically meets in the upper north parking lot.

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