Denver, CO

“Happy” Haynes legacy includes 30 bur oak trees in Denver

David Heitz
Allegra "Happy" Haynes gets a standing ovation for her years of service to the city.Photo byCity and County of Denver

After serving more than three decades in public service on the City Council, School Board and as executive director of Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department, Allegra “Happy” Haynes is retiring.

The Denver City Council lauded Haynes Monday for her service. Council member Stacie Gilmore read a proclamation.

“Allegra ‘Happy’ Haynes was born in Denver and grew up in the Park Hill neighborhood, is best known by her nickname, ‘Happy,’ which is derived from the English translation of her first name and because of her fun demeanor, which improves even in the most stressful situations,” the proclamation reads.

“Being a true trailblazer, Happy has held elected office twice in her career, as the first African American woman to be elected to Denver City Council, representing Council District 11 for three terms between 1990 and 2003, as well as being council president from 1998 to 2000,” Gilmore continued. “As Happy was elected to the Denver School Board from 2011 to 2019, serving as the board’s president between 2013 and 2015; as well as providing leadership on numerous civic and community boards, her wisdom and impact have extended to the entire country.”

As a tribute, Denver Botanic Gardens will propagate 30 “Happy Haynes” bur oak trees in honor of her 30 years of service to Denver.

‘Tree-Hugger in Chief’

“As the ‘Tree-Hugger in Chief’ and true nature-lover, Happy Haynes is an advocate for Denver’s urban forest, from prioritizing tree care and long-term planning, to ensuring that the historic bur oak tree in Civic Center Park was protected during countless city events; Denver’s urban canopy is stronger thanks to Happy’s strength and wisdom,” the proclamation reads. “Like the bur oak tree, Happy is steadfast in her purpose to improve the surroundings of her community; and with deep roots in Denver, she has made tremendous effort to support the health and wellbeing of every resident.”

Haynes serves as role model

Gilmore told Haynes she is a role model for everyone on the City Council. ”I always knew Happy as someone who was so grounded and knew who you were and where you came from. You know where you are in this space so when you show up you are calm, you are curious, and you are consistent and ask all those important questions. You exude Joy every single day in how you show up.”

Council member Shontel Lewis thanked Haynes for blazing the trail for other Black women like herself to serve on the City Council. Council member Darrell Watson called Haynes “a strong black woman who knows what she knows and does what she has to do.”

Haynes said it is bittersweet to leave the city. She plans to take some time to reflect on what she would like to do next, she said. “I’ve tried to do everything in a way that supported folks, and especially those who were unseen and unheard in the city.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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