Halfway between a huge family reunion and a rustic mountain get-together, the 50e the national anniversary assembly of the Rainbow Gathering of the Living Light and Love is taking shape in northern Routt County.
Several hundred Rainbows arrived in everything from old buses and motorhomes to vans and sedans to set up the Forest Camp north of Hayden which could draw around 10,000 people. The group’s goal is to build peace and community with each other.
“Rainbow is about loving each other where we are. We learn to live in peace for a few weeks,” said Brightwings, who is named after Rainbow.
Brightwings wore a “Be Kind” t-shirt and hails from Arizona. Her father, Harold Williams, was one of the founders of the Rainbow Gathering. Rainbow Rallies that promote peace on earth have been held since 1972. Previous rallies were held in Grand County and Routt County at Big Red Park in 2006.
Although the official rally is July 1-7, several hundred were on site Friday along Routt County Road 80 in an area of beautiful meadows, creeks and hiking trails called Adams Park about three miles north from California Park. More participants gradually arrived throughout the day to set up camps and volunteer for tasks.
Many people at this early stage of the Rainbow Gathering shared hugs and greeted each other “Welcome home” or “I love you”. Small groups of participants were busy organizing supplies for several kitchens and a children’s activity area, and another team was installing a water supply system from nearby springs.
One area has been set up as a “Handicamp” for older or disabled rainbows, and another area has been designated as a bus camp. Others were setting up tents or tarp shelters along Forest Service Trail 1144. One mile from the trailhead is a large crescent-shaped forest meadow where the group’s silent celebration of peace will take place on the morning of the 4th July.
With most prep work due to be completed by June 27, hundreds if not thousands of campers will remain in open areas along County Road 80, Trail 1144 and at the edge of the meadow, said Brightwings. Campers will spend hours talking, singing, dancing, playing instruments, making art and meeting new friends.
Brave, a Florida rainbow who travels year-round, said he attended a previous regional gathering in Florida, noting that he “felt nothing but love in this forest.” He came to Colorado to meet and learn new people.
“Everyone here wants to be here. Everyone, for the most part, contributes to the collective whole,” Brave said. “Everyone does a little bit, and we all get by.”
At noon on Friday, a group of about seven U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers and leaders arrived for a pre-scheduled meeting to continue conversations about resource management issues.
An out-of-state Forest Service official with a K-9 partner stayed with the Forest Service vehicles and noted that he was one of six or seven K-9 agents called in as part of the the USFS National Incident Management Team.
“We’re not here to spoil things. Our people really strive to respect the land,” said Brightwings. “It’s been a struggle to get people to take us both seriously and kindly.”
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.