While the question, "When did Colorado Springs first feel like home to you?" generated the most interest among Indy readers, others attracted some noteworthy responses as well. Here are a few.
What local business do you most miss, now that it's gone?
• Hard to believe that 20 years ago — Oct. 22, 1994 — a brand-new airport terminal opened up in Colorado Springs. It was complete with 12 gates, a new runway (one of the longest in the country), a new four-lane access road, an entirely new "mid-field" location and every technical innovation known at the time. And it was attracting national attention: Coverage of the event went "viral," including CNN and national media.
Meanwhile, Denver International Airport was behind schedule and over budget. Jokes flew by the hundreds about DIA. It's so far away — does DIA stand for "Deplane in Albuquerque?" "Done in April?" Or "Done in August?"
Back in the Springs, the Colorado Springs Airport soon was recognized as the No. 1 fastest-growing airport in the nation. COS boasted about nonstop flights to 30 cities, serving 5 million passengers a year.
A new concourse with five more jet bridges was built quickly to handle the demand. The parking situation was so intense, nearly $1 million was spent designing a parking structure to handle the overflow, and millions — yes, millions — of people driving to the Springs because of the incredible service.
The local economy was booming, and more than 4,000 new jobs were even credited in part to the airport's phenomenal success.
I know. I ran the place back then. Twenty years ago.
Today, it's changed quite a bit. Enplanements are now roughly equal to 1990 levels. Worse yet, United's nonstop flight to Dulles just went away without fanfare — and its San Francisco flight goes away in early 2015. Soon, even more people will drive to Denver, and passenger boardings will continue to drop as service declines. Instead of 30 destinations, the nonstop daily departures will drop to about six.
Happy birthday, COS. Me and 5 million of us — those who worked there, flew there and enjoyed your success — miss you, and 1994. — Dave Zelenok (former director of transportation, city of Colorado Springs)
• This question hit me in a personal way. My mother was murdered in March of 2000. Very selfishly by her estranged husband. Not only was she my mother, she was an influential businesswoman. Darlene Vigil was the owner/operator of Chuck's Stop Diner, also known as the Green and Yellow Diner, in Colorado Springs.
Chuck's Stop Diner was not only an award-winning diner, recognized by the Indy and the Gazette, it was a place for all walks of life to come for fellowship and enjoy a great bite to eat. It was a place where you would come in and likely sit next to a police officer, a radio deejay, a judge, a "regular Joe" and a homeless person, feel comfortable, and join in conversations — none of the social stigmas mattered. — Leroy Rael
Describe the best concert experience here in the last 21 years.
• On Sept. 11, 2001, when the country was reeling and grieving from multiple attacks, the Colorado Springs Symphony chose to go on with a scheduled concert featuring Yo Yo Ma. It was undoubtedly the most moving, emotional performance I've ever experienced. — Eileen Reilly
When in the last 21 years have you felt the worst about this city?
• Tear-gassing the antiwar protesters at Palmer Park. — Derek Suboticki
• Will Perkins' Amendment 2 was 22 years ago. — Wendy Carson
• This city lets minorities down daily. That's when I'm not proud. — Patricia Cameron
When has this city made you feel proudest?
The community response to the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires and the Manitou floods. — Multiple respondents