Call it the party a century in the making. The Democratic National Convention returns to Denver after 100 years next week and with it will come thousands of delegates, media, protesters and, local merchants hope, millions of dollars.
Most of the political spectacle, which runs Aug. 25-28, will center around Denver's downtown Pepsi Center with a shift to Invesco Field on the final night for Sen. Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- but regardless of the venue, the repercussions of at least 50,000 people descending on the Mile-high City will be felt throughout the area.
Denver is bulking up its law enforcement presence, and city officials are working with both convention and campaign security to help maintain a peaceful week despite predictions of giant crowds at events across the city.
The most controversial component of the plan is a major detention area for possibly unruly or violent protesters. Dubbed "Gitmo on the Platte" after the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, the facility has been organized to house potential mass arrests and some protest planners have said they expect tens of thousands of war protesters and others to be on the streets of Denver.
But not all of the preparation has been focused solely on law enforcement. Local business owners are hoping to capitalize on the influx of potential delegates and partygoers.
The Corner Office, a popular martini bar, will roll out 14 new cocktails on their menu, including the "Democratic Delight Martini" and the "Economic Clustertini," as well as food items like the "Obama Dog" and the "Obama Burger."
Valerie Gaddis-Arellano, who handles marketing for the bar, says the specials are catered to both the general public and convention delegates.
Other businesses are also featuring Democratic-themed merchandise and giveaways. Convention-goers will be able to pick up Obama-logoed and red, white and blue cookies at local Gateaux bakery a few blocks from the Pepsi Center.
"A lot of restaurants have booked all kinds of different parties," Denver Post reporter Chuck Plunkett said. "Other than that, normal small businesses are hoping that they get some residual traffic."
"The caterers are swamped, I mean, they're working around the clock," he added. "One of the bigger caterers in town told me that that one week will represent the best month that he's ever had in gross receipts."
The excitement of hosting the Democratic National Convention extends beyond those businesses that might profit from it, Plunkett ads. Colorado was a particularly strong state for the Illinois senator in the Democratic primary race. Obama beat out rival Sen. Hillary Clinton 67 percent to 32 percent in the Centennial State's caucuses on Feb. 5.
Drawing on that momentum, Obama's planned acceptance speech has garnered a burst of hype and anticipation.
"For the Invesco Field speech, there's a tremendous amount of excitement," Plunkett said.
When the Democratic National Committee revealed that Obama would accept the nomination at the 76,000-seat stadium, 30,000 of those seats were allotted for Denver residents. In the first 24 hours they were available, 60,000 people claimed tickets and spots on the waiting list. Another 20,000 had signed up by the next morning.
Before Obama's speech, ticketholders who purchased a separate $25 ticket can browse through the American Presidential Experience exhibition -- a 150,000-square-foot tent full of presidential memorabilia such as an original copy of the Declaration of Independence -- complete with life-size replicas of Air Force One and the Oval Office.
Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth said she feels Denver residents are energized about the attention. "They're looking forward to their city being on the world stage," she said.
Outside of the convention agenda, hundreds of speeches, demonstrations and performances are being planned in Denver's many venues and parks. While many of the events are expected to be peaceful, Plunkett said the city can't be totally sure what to expect.
Malcolm Wiley of the U.S. Secret Service said his organization is totally prepared for any disruptions because they have "worked very closely to come up with a plan to deal with any contingency."
Still, the promise of big crowds is causing concern for some residents who want to stay away from all of the commotion.
"You hear of people say that they're just going to go up to the mountains," said Plunkett.
Many business owners are encouraging employees to carpool, walk or bicycle to work to avoid the traffic caused by convention-goers and road modifications.
"Last month, we delivered plans to ensure that downtown residents and workers can get around and access their buildings with ease during the three days that the Democratic National Convention is at the Pepsi Center -- and now we are doing the same for the final event at Invesco Field at Mile High," Mayor John Hickenlooper said last week in a news release about traffic patterns for Obama's big night.
Nearly all downtown roads will remain open during the convention, but on the night of Obama's speech, a 5 1/2-mile portion of Interstate 25 will be closed beginning around 5:30 p.m.
"That's going to be a major headache," Plunkett said of that major artery being closed.
Denver Public Works' Bill Vidal says bus lines, light rail systems and shuttles -- plus parking throughout the city -- will help accommodate those trying to get to the stadium.
He added the city has held major events before, and Denver officials are confident the convention will be successful for both the party members and the city.
"We know how well the downtown grid system works," he said. "We know how well our street system works and how well it's integrated."
City and convention planners are under considerable pressure from both national bodies and local observers to pull off a flawless event. The city is home to many Democrats, but also moderate and independent voters, who will be watching the party closely.
"If there are any signs of disorganization, Republicans will try to say, 'here we go again, the Democrats can't plan, can't organize' -- whatever they can seize," Plunkett said.
For city planners, the largest challenge to pulling off the massive event will not be convincing Americans to vote for the Democratic candidate, but convincing Denver residents to participate in convention activities.
"I think that people would, out of some fear and concern, stay home," Vidal said, adding that he hopes this isn't the case. "The historical significance of this event is a wonderful thing for Denver."