Is the Denver Airport Really Controlled by the Illuminati?

Is the Denver Airport Really Controlled by the Illuminati? 

Gregoriden, "Greg" for short, lurks near the baggage claim doors, waiting for unsuspecting travelers to wander by his perch. His three-foot frame, leathery-looking wings, and bulging eyes are camouflaged by his stone-colored skin, which hides him in plain sight from all but the most attentive passersby.
Every 5-10 minutes, the alarmingly realistic animatronic gargoyle snaps to life. His eyes swivel and his head leers and his mouth opens wide:
“Welcome to Illuminati headquarters! I … I mean, welcome to Denver International Airport!”
Greg has many pre-recorded phrases. Sometimes he asks travelers to smuggle him out in their luggage, other times he cracks jokes about the New World Order or alludes to his “origins” in the airport’s alleged underground bunkers. He would be an out-of-place peculiarity at most airports, but at DEN, Greg is just one facet of the airport’s shrewd, controversial strategy to embrace the conspiracy theories that haunt their facility.
Secret Illuminati tunnels, omens of the apocalypse in their artwork, lairs for the lizard people; DEN officials rebuffed the allegations for years. Today, however, the airport is more inclined to wink at the theories than wag a finger. DEN’s website has an entire page devoted to their alleged cover-ups. The headline reads: “You may or may not have heard. DEN’s got some secrets.”
This marketing gambit has been remarkably effective for DEN. According to Public Relations firm Cision, Greg’s installation at the airport spawned an estimated $1.9 million in publicity. That figure doesn’t include DEN’s other conspiracy-related PR plugs, such as the construction signs featuring a besuited lizard man asking, “What are we doing?” above the choices:
A) Adding amazing new restaurants and barsB) Building an Illuminati headquartersC) Remodeling the lizard people’s lair
Airport CEO Kim Day says the marketing campaign has turned DEN into one of the most well-known American airports in the world. Day says when she took the job in 2008, executives with Air China didn’t know where Denver was, but now DEN is known throughout the global airline industry for its sense of humor. Day credits most of this shift to the 2012 hiring of Stacey Stegman, DEN’s Senior Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Customer Service.
Stegman remembers when she first joked about the airport’s alleged secrets at work, her fellow employees were “very sensitive” about the topic. Stegman saw a missed opportunity, and set out to recast the airport’s relationship with conspiracy theories. Today, self-referential humor seems to pervade the airport’s staff. Before beginning my guided tour of DEN, I ask an airport employee wearing a purple “Ask me. I'm here to help.” shirt what he thinks about the conspiracy theories. “Well, I’m almost at 20 years of working here,” he says, “at which point I get my own underground bunker. So I can’t talk to you about that.”
Outside the airport, however, not everyone is amused. For years, vocal conspirators have alleged something nefarious was afoot at DEN. In 2009, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura investigated the airport’s alleged hints of a looming apocalypse on his TruTV show Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. In 2011, conspiracy theorist William Tapley—who brands himself the “third eagle of the apocalypse”—appeared on The Colbert Report claiming DEN had phallic artwork hidden throughout its facilities. In 2016, David Icke, a conspiracy theorist with over 325,000 Twitter followers and more than a dozen books to his credit, wrote on his website the airport is “literally a New-Age cathedral, full of occult symbolism and references to secret societies.”
When DEN’s PR team released a promotional video of Greg in 2019 (ending with the line: “Travel is better when you’re having fun. That’s our theory.”), more conspiracy theorists emerged among the video’s 1,348 comments.
One reply: “Cool, instead of answering all the questions about the Freemason Time Capsule, the Death horse you have outside, murals of slaughter on your walls, underground tunnels etc. You make of course a ‘gargoyle’ making fun of everything. Comedy is the best way to deflect real questions. Good job. The sheeple will fall rite [sic] into your trap.”
Another: “HaHaHa, don't pay attention to the Man behind the Curtain folks. See how funny this Demonic statue is? Aren't the Satanic Global Elitists so hilarious? Just keep laughing, stay distracted, nothing to see underneath this airport, NOTHING AT ALL!! HaHaHa.”
Other commenters allege the airport is tied to demon possession, hidden prophecies about the end times, the origin of the Illuminati, and a cover-up concerning Lizard People who emerge from underground tunnels and eat children.
“Our intent with Gregoriden was not to get into conflict with anyone,” Stegman says. “We’re trying to engage with people. Life is so serious, we want people to have a laugh and alleviate their stress.”
When I requested a tour of DEN’s oddities—the red-eyed horse statue, the underground tunnels, the dystopian murals—the airport was quick to accommodate. They fielded dozens of questions about all manner of minutiae, and they facilitated several additional interviews, including conversations with their CEO and a former Denver mayor. At the airport, the conspiracy theories are eager conversation topics, not taboo.
“It should be obvious when one views Leo Tanguma's murals at DIA that they are very positive,” says Leo’s wife, Jeanne, over email.
Obvious is a stretch. One of Leo’s four full-wall murals depicts a dead child laying in a coffin. There’s also a steampunk fascist impaling a dove with a sword, crying children fleeing a burning building, a sea turtle trapped in a net, and a Native American woman without eyes.
To online conspirators, Leo’s murals are a message from an elite cabal planning to steer the world into the apocalypse and raise their New World Order from the ashes. Leo declines to be interviewed about “the ridiculous conspiracy theories” surrounding his work, according to Jeanne. She says the murals depict the “children of the world coming together to rehabilitate the environment and struggle for world peace.”
The four murals are meant to be viewed as two diptychs, a pair of paintings connected by a theme. In each of Leo’s diptychs the smaller mural presents the evils of the world while the larger mural presents the hope of peace. For instance, the dove-killing steampunk fascist from the first mural is seen dead in the second mural, as children from countries around the world destroy the swords of war with a hammer and anvil. Airport officials hope travelers who stop and engage with Leo’s work will find the murals responsive to the human condition.
Federico Peña was mayor of Denver from 1989 to 1991, during the first three yers of DEN’s construction. He sees the airport’s commitment to personality as ahead of its time. “Today, international airports in Korea, China, and the UAE have extraordinary design and artwork,” he says. “These new airports have followed our approach to include beauty and design and art. We were one of the first.”
Kim Day acknowledges DEN’s art is challenging, but claims it’s in service of the airport attempting to interact with travelers—just like Greg’s cackling greetings for arrivals. “Part of our brand is that we relate to people,” she says. “We don’t want you to go through the airport like an automaton. We want you to feel connected when you’re here.”
DEN’s underground tunnels feel like the bowels of a vacant sports arena—all concrete, harsh lighting, and exposed pipes. After passing through a security checkpoint, I board a flatbed golf cart with Alex Renteria, DEN’s Public Information Officer, and set off through the tunnels. Renteria is my Virgil today, guiding me down into the bowels of the airport and back again. I keep my head on a swivel, ostensibly looking for bunkers, lizard people, or Illuminati (though I’m not sure what Illuminati look like—maybe they wear robes?).
Instead of nuclear fallout shelters, around us and overhead are the remnants of another attempt by DEN at airport distinction: a fully-automated baggage system. This ill-fated project was reported to contribute at least $100 million to DEN's $2 billion budget overrun during construction. While most airports move luggage from the plane to baggage claim via human-operated vehicles, DEN wanted to automate the baggage process with computer-controlled carts and 26 total miles of underground criss-crossing tracks. The system promised fewer lost bags, shorter delays, and lower labor costs for the airlines.
It was a spectacular failure.
"It wasn't the technology per se—it was a misplaced faith in it," Richard de Neufville, professor of civil engineering at MIT, told the New York Times in 2005. The baggage system’s engineers hadn’t accounted for numerous complications and glitches inevitable in such a concept.
For example, the system included a telescoping belt loader, nicknamed “the lizard tongue,” designed to shoot out from the baggage system and scoop bags from the airplane. Instead, the lizard tongue flung the luggage clean off the overhead ramps, down toward the workers below.
"You'd be driving along, and you'd see bags flying from the buckets overhead, or see pieces on the ground," Veronica Stevenson, a lead baggage handler for United Airlines and local union rep, told the New York Times. "Automation always looks good on paper. Sometimes you need real people."
United Airlines used the system in a limited capacity upon completion, but DEN ultimately scrapped the baggage plan altogether in 2005. Today, airport workers and baggage cars motor back and forth through the tunnels, the unused tracks dormant overhead like a haunted roller coaster.
I ask Renteria about the theories that posit these tunnels run to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). She pulls out her phone and consults Google Maps before showing me the distance between the two sites: approximately 92 miles. Renteria and I discuss for a few minutes how one would construct 92 miles of tunnels in secret under residential and commercial properties and agree it would be logistically challenging.
So you’re saying they don’t exist?
“No, they do, but it’s on the other side of the tunnels I didn’t show you.” Renteria laughs. “That’s where the bunkers are, too.”
Conspiracy theorists have alleged DIA is built on a Native American burial ground, and that the ghosts of disturbed bodies haunt the airport. The allegations landed in 1995, when according to an independent Denver-based publication called Westword, the city of Denver organized a "[DEN] Spiritual Resolution Committee" and paid a volunteer committee member named Lance Allrunner $700 to convince representatives of the Montana Cheyenne tribe to bless DIA’s land. Federico Peña says the blessing occurred, and it was meant to respect the indigenous people who roamed the area before Denver was settled by gold miners in the 1850s. There is no evidence of a burial ground beneath DIA. Today, the airport features an art installation called Spirit of the People in Concourse A. The exhibit features photographs, paintings, and music donated from local tribes, including the Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Navajo.

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