The Rainbow Family of Living Light still hasn’t announced its plans for its annual national gathering in Montana slated in early July, a Forest Service spokesman who is monitoring the situation said Friday afternoon.
A loosely organized group has been staying the past week at the Racetrack Campground near Deer Lodge to decide on the location.
Cass Cairns, Forest Service spokeswoman, said about 200 Rainbow Family people are camping there. She traveled to the site on Friday, and the people appear to be policing themselves to keep the area clean.
She said the Rainbow campers are pretty well dispersed throughout the campground area.
Butte police Sgt. Jimm Kilmer said Friday the department has received increased complaints of people panhandling and loitering in town this past week, but he can’t confirm they are affiliated with the Rainbow Family. However, he noted that many of these complaints involved people from outside of Butte who happened to be passing through.
Last week, police moved on a large group of people in a bus who had stopped at the Wal-Mart and were accused of panhandling, Kilmer said.
“There’s no way to confirm they’re Rainbow people, but it’s likely they are with that group,” Kilmer said.
The Rainbow Family started in 1972 with a gathering that began on July 1 in Aspen, Colo. They’ve been called the largest non-organization of nonmembers in the world, and pride themselves on having no leaders.
They advocate nonviolence and many adopt alternative lifestyles, with attendees ranging from doctors and lawyers to hippies and transients. They’re called Rainbow gatherings because of their diversity.
These gatherings can attract thousands of people, according to past newspaper stories on these events.
The Rainbow Family held a gathering in July 2000 near Jackson in the Big Hole Valley, where an estimated 20,000 people camped on public land for several days.
— Standard staff