ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Businesses in the tourist town of Estes Park are working to assure visitors they are welcome after a nasty notes turned up on vehicles with out-of-state license plates.
“I can’t believe somebody would say something so hateful,” Estes Chamber of Commerce director Donna Carleson told FOX31.
The printed notes have been found on vehicles parked at trailheads, visitor centers and parking lots in town. It is unclear how many have been distributed.
They say, “Hi! We year-round residents of Estes Park would be so happy to see you here, any other time. As it is, we are a small community with a lot of retired Sr. Citizens. We’ve been being more careful here than some other places. Having folks from all over the country come here, now, feels disrespectful. We would love to see you back, later. For now though, with all due respect, please GO THE HELL BACK TO WHEREVER YOUR OUT OF STATE LICENSE IS FROM.”
“That message is not at all reflective of the spirit of Estes Park,” Carleson said.
In fact, up and down Elkhorn Avenue and lining the windows of the businesses along it, are signs welcoming visitors back.
“We’re so happy to see visitors again. We have missed our visitors,” Carleson said. “To see the streets busy again has been the greatest delight.”
According to Carleson, Estes Park has given businesses 120 gallons of hand sanitizer to help them operate safely. Stores are limiting how many people can be inside at once. Everyone inside must wear a mask and many shops have protective glass or plastic at the register to separate customers from staff.
“This is a safe place to come. Our businesses are taking extraordinary measures to practice safety,” she said. “Those who feel vulnerable have the choice to stay at home and continue to shelter safer at home.”
Estes Park has suffered especially hard from the pandemic, which forced Rocky Mountain National Park to close for several weeks.
“It was hard to watch the bank account go down farther and farther,” Carissa Streib, owner of the Simply Christmas shop, said.
Over the past few weekends, Streib says business has been picking back up.
“I would say the tourists are 95 percent of my business,” she said. “We’re just so thankful for anybody that comes up here and shares their time and money with us.”
Now, she says shops and restaurants can’t afford to lose customers again because of the rogue notes.
“One lady said she probably would have cried. She goes, ‘I probably would have cried if I saw that.’ And these are people that are walking around spending money and supporting us,” Streib said.
If you have any information on who may responsible for the notes, you are asked to call Estes Park police at: 970-577-3838.
“The pandemic has brought a lot of stress to everyone in the Estes Valley and everywhere — we feel it, too. Let’s remember that everyone is managing this difficult time in one way or another. Let’s adapt together. Let’s strive to be patient and kind, together,” Estes Park police said in a statement.