Since 4/20 landed on Easter Sunday this year, Reverb took the unique opportunity to be at Red Rocks Amphitheatre from 4:20 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. to watch the Easter Sunrise Service transition into Snoop Dogg’s big 4/20 concert. Here’s what we saw…
David Garcia is high watching a capacity crowd sing “Amazing Grace” at the 67th Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It’s just before 7 a.m. He woke up before the sun with two holidays to celebrate: Easter and 4/20. First he smoked marijuana, then attended the service and later that day will head to Denver for the Cannabis Cup.
“It’s a beautiful sight,” said Garcia, who was raised Christian and believes in God along with smoking weed.
“Man didn’t create weed — God created weed, and I don’t think smoking is harming anyone,” he said. “I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong in God’s eyes.”
Visiting from New Jersey for 4/20 and Easter weekend, Garcia said that the church is becoming more and more tolerant with marijuana.
“People from Colorado realize that it doesn’t create crime,” Garcia said. “Look, there’s two completely different types of people at the same place in one day. It’s a beautiful thing.”
As the sun climbed above Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a capacity crowd huddled under blankets, wearing coats, gloves and hats. Crosses adorn the stage and men of faith led the congregation through “The Lord’s Prayer” and hymns with shouts of “Christ is risen!” and “Hallelujah!”
It’s a coincidence that Superintendent Patrick L. Demmer pointed out during his sermon for a congregation of more than 10,000.
“Rap musicians often degrade women and express themselves with nasty language,” Demmer said after the service. “That’s not the God I serve.”
Though he wasn’t referring to weed specifically while speaking to the audience — rather, he wanted to draw everyone’s attention to the contrasts in the world.
“You don’t need weed to get high if you have Jesus,” said Demmer, who is one of few African American men to have spoken in the 67-year history of the Sunday Easter service. “When you’ve got Jesus. You don’t need anything else. I used to smoke marijuana on a regular basis and I enjoyed it, but then I found Jesus.”
Even before the sunrise service started to come to a close, the congregation began to trickle out early in an effort to beat traffic (which had been some of the worst I’d ever seen at Red Rocks entering the park). By shortly after 8 a.m. it had transitioned from God worshipers to fitness worshipers. A number of people had started the day early to run up and down Red Rocks’ daunting face of stairs. Crews quickly pulled down the podiums and crosses and began moving in trucks with speakers, lights and instruments for the Snoop Dogg show. Families wandered around the park hiking and enjoying the view.
Throughout the day, I asked people what it meant about Colorado to have these two completely different groups using the venue for two completely different celebrations on the same day. I asked weed-supporters, weed non-supporters, out-of-towners, lifelong Coloradans and typically the answer was always the same: This state is tolerant of everyone, this state is laid back, people here are nice.