Organizers estimate about 5,000-6,000 people came through the gates of a mini-festival outside of Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom that had 26th to 28th streets closed on Welton Street.
Boulder jam band Leftover Salmon played a 4:20 p.m. show at a temporary stage on the street as rappers Method Man and Redman celebrated inside at a near-capacity Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom.
"People around the world are looking at Denver on this day that sense has come to drug policy," said Leftover Salmon vocalist/guitarist Vince Herman, sitting in the basement of Denver Kush Club just before taking the stage at 4:20 p.m. "I feel really glad that we can have a role celebrating in the streets."
Herman first heard of 4/20 in the late '80s early '90s from bikers in California.
"It's a little piece of culture that people can feel they own, and we're going to see more and more of it," Herman said.
A bluegrass-focused jam band playing at the same event as a hip-hop act, Herman said is evidence of the different genres and cultures 4/20 brings to Denver.
"It's a great indicator of the diversity of music in the Mile High City," he said. "That's what means it's a live music scene and in that sense we have some Austin-like things going on. I think it's a great thing."
A line nearly two blocks long had formed just before the bands took the stage at 4:20 p.m. Some waited more than an hour to get into the event. Tents selling merchandise food and beer had been set up along the streets. Food trucks sold barbecue, vegan dishes, burgers and chips — some accepting "Tips or Nuggs" as gratuity.
Method Man and Redman were greeted by cheers and clouds of smoke inside Cervantes as the two Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated rappers took the stage at 4:20 p.m. Despite signs posted throughout the venue urging fans to not smoke indoors, the two rappers told the crowd to light their joints.
Matt Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org, @Official_MattM