DENVER — The so-called Rainbow Family Gatherings started in Colorado 50 years ago, and this year it would be back.
Attendees told Denver7 that this year’s event could bring about 80,000 people to one of Colorado’s forest lands.
“We are expecting a very strong turnout this year,” said James Parisho, a 12-year-old participant in the Rainbow Family Gathering, who added that the rally was about peace.
“We call ourselves family although we are not related by blood. We are bound by our common purpose and common interest in praying for world peace, for that is what the Rainbow Gathering is all about. centered,” Parisho said.
Parisho, along with others, usually gathers as part of the Rainbow Family Gathering for an entire week.
“Usually Rainbow is described as a hippie-type event, and it really is, but it really isn’t. It really is for everyone. It’s welcoming to all kinds of people, from your hippies to your, I guess you could say, rednecks or whatever. Everyone is welcome and everyone shows up,” he said.
This year, the gathering will take place between July 1 and July 7. Parisho told Denver7 that the attendees have yet to decide which state forest they plan to gather in, but said it will be held in Colorado.
“This year will be our 50th anniversary gathering, which is why we are returning to Colorado, where it all started in 1972,” Parisho said.
However, despite being an event focused on “praying for world peace”, such gatherings have been controversial in the past.
“We keep as little impact as possible on the environment. That’s actually one of our main goals and Gathering leaves no trace. And if anything, we leave the forest better than it does. looked like it,” Parisho said.
Coloradans who have heard of the Rainbow Family Gathering say they worry about wildfire danger and cleanliness.
Parisho told Denver7 these are concerns Rainbow Family Gatherings attendees are trying to address.
“We do a lot of liaison work with the National Forest Service, both on the law enforcement side and the natural resources side to make sure we’re paying attention to sensitive environments in the area we’re going to. find, whether it’s wildlife, plants, or a fragile water source,” Parisho said, adding that the group doesn’t track one thing: “Typically the Forest Service will ask groups of 75 or more to obtain an incident use permit. don’t do this.”
Denver7 contacted the US Forest Service. A spokesperson said they heard about the rally potentially taking place in Grand County:
The Forest Service is aware that the 2022 Rainbow Family Gathering could take place in Colorado, potentially in Grand County. This is not an authorized or sanctioned event. The Forest Service requires a Special Use Permit for each public group of 75 or more people holding a meeting or event on National Forest System lands. The Rainbow Family has consistently refused to comply with the permit process at national gatherings. We want to assure the community that we are working with our partners and collaborators to prepare for the possibility of an extended large gathering in Colorado. Although these gatherings are not sanctioned, we are providing a significant number of additional resources to help reduce impacts on local communities and natural resources. As the Grand County community continues to recover from the devastating fires of 2020 and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the advantage we have is knowing about this potential incident. This gives us ample time to work together to plan and prepare.
Denver7 also contacted the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said they were aware the rally was taking place in Colorado.
“We are engaged in preliminary discussions with the United States Forest Service, as the event would most likely take place on public lands,” Schroetlin said. “Our local, state and federal partners will be prepared if the event does materialize, and we will work to minimize any local impacts it may have on our community.”
State officials told Denver7 they are also aware of the possibility of the rally taking place in the state, adding that they plan to increase coordination between agencies if the event occurs.
The Colorado Department of Natural Resources said, “The State of Colorado is coordinating with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal partners as well as local first responders in Grand County and its municipalities on the Rainbow Family Gatherings rumors. this summer. Since the gathering is expected to be on federal lands, the U.S. Forest Service is the lead agency, but state agencies coordinating possible assistance in any response include the Department of Natural Resources (Parks and Wildlife Colorado), Department of Public Safety (including Colorado State Patrol, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Dept of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Colorado Bureau of Investigation), and Dept of Local Affairs Currently, the coordination has been preliminary and focused on planning and will continue to intensify as the date approaches.
As for the rally itself, Parisho told Denver7 that attendees welcome feedback from local Coloradans on suitable gathering locations.
He said they plan to have a location finalized by June.