Rainbow Family in Colorado: How U.S. Forest Service is preparing for 50th anniversary festivities

Confused about the Rainbow Family and the group’s possible 50th anniversary celebration in Colorado this summer?

The U.S. Forest Service has you covered — and is mobilizing a “national incident management team” to handle the potential festivities.

Word has trickled out in recent weeks about the hippie group’s possible month-long celebration in Colorado, prompting federal authorities to launch a website with all the vitals on the Rainbow Family Living Light and their quirky festivities.

The Forest Service also launched the incident management team to work with the local community and law enforcement “to protect the health and safety of everyone involved, and to lessen environmental impacts to the site by providing information and enforcing laws.”

The group, whose members say they stand for peace and love, celebrated their inaugural festival in 1972 near Strawberry Lake, outside Granby. Since that first gathering, the Rainbow Family has come together annually on different national forest lands, with crowds ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 visitors.

Vice once called the festivities a “weird version of Burning Man” mixing “bikers, Jesus freaks, computer programmers, naked yogis and gutter punks” looking to escape the thralls of everyday life. Past gatherings in Colorado led to trespassing and illegal camping charges and reported drug use.

The gathering usually coincides with the Fourth of July, the Forest Service said, but the event’s specific location and timeframe is not typically revealed to the federal agency until mid-June — after the group’s spring council. A final location for this year’s celebration has not been set, the Forest Service said.

The Rainbow Family group “consistently refused” to comply with permitting laws for previous gatherings, according to the Forest Service.

“They claim to have no leaders and no one member of the family who can speak for the group to sign a permit on behalf of the family,” the federal agency said on its website.

The Forest Service put together a resource protection plan to ensure environmental damage is minimized, and stipulates that the Rainbow Family clean up the area after the festivities.

But people can expect “socially unacceptable behavior” from some of the attendees, the Forest Service warned — including public nudity, civil disobedience, drug and alcohol abuse, and “confrontations between Rainbows and locals.”

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