Elly Evans stood on the sidewalk near the tap house her father once owned, tears spilling down her face and clutching her parents' wedding bands, which she now wears on a chain around her neck. …
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Elly Evans stood on the sidewalk near the tap house her father once owned, tears spilling down her face and clutching her parents' wedding bands, which she now wears on a chain around her neck.
Before her, a seemingly endless stream of cars drove back and forth in front of her father's business, Astro Tap House.
Drivers honked as they saw Elly — non-stop for a while — blaring horns and drowning out live music played by a family friend. Many flashed peace and heart signs. They shouted, “I love you,” hanging outside car windows and sunroofs, waiving to her.
The April 9 procession was to commemorate her father, Steve Evans, 52, who died April 6 after a two-week battle with COVID-19 devastated his already compromised immune system.
With his passing, Elly lost her best friend, and life moving forward felt uncertain, she said. But the outpouring of support during the procession left her overwhelmed.
“My dad knew all these people,” she said, barely stifling tears. “I figured it would be a decent amount of people, but not anything like this.”
Steve was an active executive member of the Facebook group-turned-nonprofit, Dads of Castle Rock. The DoCR organized the procession and has vowed to support Elly, who is bracing for funeral costs and medical bills.
Vehicles poured into the Douglas County Fairgrounds where the procession began at roughly 6:30 p.m. Men wearing DoCR shirts directed traffic, lined up cars and instructed people not to get out of their vehicles because of social distancing requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.
The procession then crawled across downtown Castle Rock, past Castle Rock Mayor Jason Gray's coffee shop, and through The Meadows neighborhood before ending at Steve's tap house.
Spokesman for the DoCR Kodi Nottingham said Steve was an incredible friend and family member. His death is a “huge loss” for the community and the turnout for his procession left him flabbergasted, Nottingham said.
“Steve had such an impact on this community and you can honestly see that by how many people are showing up to do this for him,” Nottingham said. “This is a celebration of his life. He is more than just a victim of coronavirus.”
During their April 7 town council meeting, Castle Rock councilmembers remembered Steve as a pillar in the community. Councilmember Jess Loban called him “a treasure to Castle Rock” and asked people to pray for his family.
Mayor Gray said he knew Steve for 15 years. Steve once had an office by the mayor's roasting room, and they talked often. Gray's coffee shop, Crowfoot Valley Coffee, took coffee to Steve's tap house and he remembers when Steve's wife — and Elly's mother — died in an accident more than 12 years ago.
“It's a pain for all of us in the community,” Gray said of Steve's death. “I want you guys to, everybody who can, to reach out to Elly, his daughter, and just remember them when you can. It's really, really difficult.”
Elly, 20, took a break from planning her father's funeral to attend the procession. She's comforted knowing her father can be with her mother again and plans to bury him alongside her at Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Under Colorado's stay-at-home order, she is allowed a maximum of 10 people at his burial. That includes funeral home staff, leaving six spots available for family, including her.
Deciding which five of her father's loved ones can attend his burial feels impossible, she said.
She can hold a viewing service remotely, livestreaming for family who can't attend. Most of her father's relatives live out of state and understand the pandemic doesn't allow a normal funeral at the time being, she said.
Still, Elly hopes to give her father a proper celebration of life later this summer, where anyone who loved him can attend.
Nottingham said until that day comes, the DoCR hopes the procession will honor Steve and the way he touched people's lives.
“We can still come together in these times to celebrate someone for who they truly are,” he said.
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