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Back Home Again: 22 Years Of Friendship At John Denver Celebration

Oct 10, 2019

Six friends have attended the John Denver Celebration each of the last 22 years, including Kazumi Uesegi, who makes the annual trip from Tokyo, Japan.
Credit Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

For the 22nd year in a row, the John Denver Celebration is getting underway. Fans from all around the world converge on Aspen for a week of music, remembrance and friendship.

Five days of concerts and events kicked off with a meet and greet in the John Denver Sanctuary on Wednesday morning. A group of six women at the meet and greet have attended every annual celebration, and have found fellowship over the past two decades.

“Some of us only see each other maybe once a year,” said 22-time attendee J.P. McDaniel. “But there's a connection and a bond and it has grown so much bigger than John and the music.”

United by their common interest in Denver’s messages, some attendees traverse oceans to be with like-minded friends. Kazumi Uesegi, who has come from Tokyo, Japan for each of the 22 meetings, remarked that the annual event had come to feel like a family reunion. 

“Not a biological family,” Uesegi said, “But we can share with our deep thoughts, hearts and spirit.”

Uesegi said Denver’s values of peace, kindness and environmentalism transcend borders.

"To think of each other,” Uesegi said. “To care for each other. Unconditional love is universal.”