A wreath hanging on the front entrance of St. John's Cathedral in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Compiled by Eric Lubbers, eric@coloradosun.com
CTO/Newsletter Wrangler, @brofax

A wreath hanging on the front entrance of St. John’s Cathedral in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Good Christmas Eve morn, readers! Today’s Sunriser will be lean and mean so you can get on with your holiday, but I just want to take the time to thank you for reading, supporting and sharing the kind of local journalism we think can make a real difference in our state. I’ve never been so satisfied while working on Christmas Eve because I know that we’ve already built the beginnings of a readership that cares deeply about its community and is ready to help make it a better place.

The one thing I’ll ask of you before you disconnect for the holidays is this: If you’re going to see friends and family over the holiday who you think would want to be a part of our community, tell them about The Sun and (if you’re feeling bold) get them to sign up for The Sunriser (coloradosun.com/sunriser). The more the merrier!

OK, we’ve all got flights to catch, gifts to wrap and hams to glaze, so let’s nog these eggs, shall we?

Colorado’s air, landscape and elevation have contributed to 70 deaths in aircraft crashes since 2014

Flying continues to be safer than driving in Colorado, despite the fact that only California, Texas, Alaska and Florida have seen more aircraft-related deaths since 2014. Our resident aviation expert Jesse Paul mapped out each of the crashes (click on each icon to see the details of the crash and the state of the NTSB investigation) and talked to pilots about what makes Colorado such a challenging place to fly.

>> Read the story and explore the map here.

After Colorado’s blue wave, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is one of the top Republicans left standing. And he’s got ideas about the future.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers speaks at a news conference at the Colorado Capitol on Sept. 18, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

There aren’t many Republicans with deep experience left standing in Colorado’s top political offices after the November election. Former state Attorney General and current Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is one of them. Jesse Paul sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Suthers about the future of his party and his city, which he says is predicted to be the largest city in the state in 2045.

>> Read the full interview here.

More from The Sun

// The federal government is partially shut down, but the Colorado Springs-based Santa Tracker is still firing on all cylinders.

// Gov. John Hickenlooper gave a conditional pardon to a man who committed murder at the age of 15, “because of the work [he has] done to transform [his] community” — the latest in the outgoing governor’s last-minute use of his clemency authority, writes Jesse Paul.

From the Opinion Page

The Arctic is melting, the West is on fire,
The jet stream gyrates like a flailing live wire.
It sends heat up north, making ice caps too thin
And brings East Coast snowdrifts right up to their chins.

Down South and along the Nor’eastern shores
The sea level’s rising. High tides reach front doors!
And here in the state with the mountains so purple
We’ve lost pine and spruce trees to beetles too fertile.

// Diane Carman steals the show with a bouncy poem about how hard it is to appreciate Christmas in a state (and country, and world) that just keeps getting hotter.

// On that note, Georgetown University student and Centennial native Kirk Zieser writes about the state’s air pollution and compares it to another toxic chemical that was effectively chased out of the marketplace by the EPA, the pesticide DDT.

// Former Assistant Colorado Attorney General Tom Downey has a piece that throws a little cold water on the dream of federally legalized marijuana.

// Mario Nicolais will wish you a “Merry Christmas” and not feel sorry.

The Shortlist

Stuff about Colorado worth checking out


// Read all about the Christmas Mitzvah Project, organized by Jewish Colorado, where volunteers help staff hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters on Christmas Day so workers can spend time with their families.  // 5280

// The photography staff at The Denver Post remains top-notch, and these 72 best-of-the-year photos prove it (Photo No. 16 by Helen Richardson seriously looks like a Japanese landscape painting come to life).  // The Denver Post

// Denver’s John and Amy Israel Pregulman have made it their mission to photograph as many Holocaust survivors as possible, before it’s too late. “It really gives them a sense of dignity and worth and happiness to know that … people are going to remember them. Because their biggest fear is that they’re going to be forgotten.” // WBUR

// This is one of the best things I’ve read all year and it’s under the umbrella of a simple three-word headline: “What is Glitter?// NYT

Your Thing for Today

A well-used game of Kismet. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

The Thing: Kismet, a perfect little family dice game. (Available online at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Amazon and possibly haunting a forgotten aisle of a grocery store near you.)

Why You Might Like It: On its face, Kismet is a simple concept: Yahtzee, but with colored dice and a few extra poker hands — like the ability to get a flush — on the scorecard (both games are based on the game “yacht”). But in practice, it may as well have been designed in a lab as the perfect holiday family game. It’s easy enough for busy moms to play while keeping an eye on kids, but actually requires more strategy than Yahtzee so you don’t lose interest in between turns. And like Yahtzee, the play is focused on one person at a time, which creates a great environment to catch up over coffee, hot chocolate or … more adult beverages.

We got our copy of the game a few years ago after rummaging around a back aisle of the Lowry Albertson’s, so there’s a chance that you could find it that way. Or, if you’re in the metro area and willing to generously tip your overworked/underpaid Amazon delivery driver, you can order it today with Prime and have it delivered today in time for a post-dinner round or three.

It’s quickly become a staple of family gatherings and at less than ten bucks, it’s possibly the best dollar-to-hours-enjoyed purchase I’ve ever made.

Editor’s note: Every Sunriser will include one … thing … to cap off our time together. The Thing will be just about anything, like a TV show or a book or a particularly cool dog toy.

OK folks, if you’re celebrating Christmas, travel safe and have a wonderful holiday (keep an eye out for a special edition of the Sunriser tomorrow). If you’re not celebrating, enjoy the abundant parking around the state! Either way, thanks for reading and have a great day.

— Eric

Eric Lubbers is the Chief Technology Officer and one of the co-founders of The Colorado Sun. A native of Yuma, Colorado, he writes The Sunriser newsletter in addition to handling most of the behind-the-scenes tech stuff. Email: eric@coloradosun.com...