Officials warning residents about ‘Rainbow Family’ gathering, LDS church moving children from area

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HEBER CITY, Utah -- It's a bit hard to see any semblance of a rainbow through a blizzard in June, but 20 miles east of Heber City it’s starting to get a little more colorful.

"You're a rainbow family. He's a rainbow family. People in the White House are a rainbow family,” said Novel, who arrived at the site on Tuesday afternoon.

Novel is one of thousands who consider themselves part of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a group that gathers annually in effort to spread peace and harmony.

“It’s about world peace,” Novel said. “But I personally believe it's like a very excellent place to meet people, to network, to become the true you.”

It’s a diverse group that will grow from just a few dozen to up to 20,000 in the coming weeks.

Together, they create a community on U.S. Forest Service land, where “family members” from all around the country share in the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning.

"All of us humans on this earth, all creatures, not even just humans, all the light beings, we all come from the same source. We need to band together,” said Code-E.

But the process of banding together hasn’t always been so peaceful at other events held around the country, according to Wasatch County Manager Michael Davis.

“They proclaim world peace, but there are people who associate with the group that don’t necessarily conform with laws,” Davis said.

Because of the proximity of the camp site to Heber City, Davis fears some of the festivities and problems from the event will spill into town.

“Panhandling, aggressive panhandling, shoplifting, nudity, those types of things that aren’t according to our laws here in Heber City and Wasatch County,” Davis said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is taking precautions just in case.

Officials said the Lindon stake girls' camp has been moved from the Aspen Lake campsite.

Another group has been moved from the Lake Creek camp as well.

But the U.S. Forest Service has a different take on the event.

“They're not dangerous. They're not going to cause any problems in the woods that we're aware of. They're just going to be living a different lifestyle than most people around here are used to,” said David Whittekiend, Forest Supervisor for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Forests.

According to the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, police did respond to the campsite for a death of a woman on Sunday.

Authorities said the cause of death is still unknown.

They are currently awaiting autopsy results.


  • Eric Cartman

    Pshaw. It’s easy to be a “rainbow family” in Heber. Go to Tikrit and put it to a REAL test.

  • Raz

    I’ve seen the aftermath of these so called “peaceful hippies”. They leave garbage and raw sewage all over in their wake. Not to mention the land the will inhabit over the next few months will be all but destroyed. Kick em out already!

    • Mark Snuff

      Not to mention the economic drain, not stimulus as they’d like you to believe. They believe in bartering or begging without spending money. Which equates to stealing and squatting. I’m all about peace and love and nature, but these folks are just a waste of space.

      • Meg

        We do believe in bartering and sharing within the gathering but most of us do have jobs in the outside world and will be bringing money with us to spend in the surrounding areas. The gathering is non-commercial for both philosophical and practical legal reasons. Bartering and sharing is not at all “stealing and squatting” and I feel sorry for you if you have so bought into consumerism that you think that not spending dollars somehow equates to taking what is not rightfully yours. A lot of people even without much money still have a lot of other talents and energy to give and one of the great things about Rainbow is seeing other things appreciated which aren’t appreciated with big bucks outside of gatherings like being artists and musicians, chopping fire wood, bringing in homegrown food, digging latrines, helping with childcare, picking up garbage, washing dishes, etc. The people who are willing to do these things without pay are no “a waste of space” just because they are volunteers and not getting paid big bucks to be there.

      • Cartman

        Try cleaning up after yourselves, Meg. Nobody likes dirty hippies.

        And why don’t you go preach “peace” in a violent place like Iraq or Syria? It’s pretty cowardly to preach “peace” to peaceful people.

      • Meg

        Cartman, I do clean up after myself. Quite thoroughly, in fact. And I at other gathers I participate in cleaning up what LOCALS have left behind. At the gathering, everyone is expected to pick up after themselves, but there are also people dedicated to cleaning up stuff after people leave and renaturalizing the sites. We even recycle.

        As for preaching peace in the middle east… I think I’ll pass. My vacation isn’t that long. But that shouldn’t stop me or you from practicing and protesting for peace here. There is still plenty of violence in the U.S. and also perpetrated by the U.S. overseas.

      • Trevor

        A comment on Fox news that’s completely ignorant? Say it ain’t so!

        Bartering does not =stealing and squatting champ. Might want to buy a dictionary.

    • CromptonFamily

      You have no idea what your talking about. First rul is pack it in pack of out. People stay and reseed, plant trees and we can’t be perfect but 95% of trash is removed. We leave it better than people leave their regular campsites.

      • obra

        I for one, have dealt personally with several members of rainbow family (managed a gas station) and have never had an issue with them begging or any type of ill treatment or disrespect. The members were actually very pleasant, as for the trash being left behind, our public should visit our small reservoirs and campsites after a normal weekend trip from some city folk who leave their garbage at the lakes for the locals who take pride in our country side…I have picked up more trash on any given day from the (regular joe weekend camper) In every situation, you do have a few bad apples, but this doesnt make them all bad. Hope you all have a great time and things go well with all members.

    • Hoz C Holla

      Not so Raz. Any gathering of 10-20,000 people is sure to have it’s share of problems. A group of Rainbows always stay behind after the July 4th ceremonies to clean up the site. A week, a month or even several months, what ever it takes to restore the area to it’s natural condition. Rainbows have a protocol to gather waste, recycle what can be, and haul off the rest. They fill in latrines, fire pits, replant and restore the trails. Their whole thought is to move lightly on the land. The Forest Service has often given the Rainbows high praises for their reclamation efforts.

      Instead of spreading lies and recriminations in advance of the Gathering I would recommend going up there July 4th and join in celebration. Then return a month later for your “white glove” inspection.

    • your_freindly_neighbor

      RAZ, please explain your experience because I think your’a lying, sir. good day! ~ <3

  • Kate Hurley

    People of Heber city let me give you some advice. I have been going to Rainbow Gatherings for over a decade working with a Christian kitchen that provides meals for the Rainbow family. If you work with the Rainbow people rather than against them it will greatly benefit you. When do you have that much business going through your town? Treat them with respect and think about ways that you can bless them and you will reap the benefit. Order lots and lots of socks and gloves and hats and flashlights and sweets (aka ZuZus in Rainbow speak) for your general stores and other things that Rainbows will need for camping. The first gathering I ever went to in Montana we gave this advice to the owner of the nearest general store in town. She listened to us. She thanked us profusely on our way out, telling us that she and her husband had been tens of thousands of dollars in debt and that after stocking all the things that the Rainbow Family would need for their time at the gathering they had made enough money to be debt free! Treat the rainbow family with love and they will treat you back with love. And, as a community of faith, think about the way that a good and loving God would treat them and let the love flow through you that should be flowing through you if you are serving that God. Rainbows just want love and respect and family like all of us do. That is why we all come to the gathering, because it is a place that we get love and respect and family that we rarely find outside of the gathering.

  • Meg

    Excellent advice, Kate Hurley! I am coming in for the gathering all the way from Florida. It’s like a big family reunion. There’s always that one cousin that embarrasses everyone, but most are really amazing people — which is the reason why I plan to travel so far to gather with them. I’ve really learned a lot about the power of love, acceptance, and respect from Rainbow family. It’s a beautiful thing to see when you get it. And yes, though the gathering itself is non-commercial, I will definitely be looking for places to restock on my trip. And if I know some place is welcoming, then they will get first dibs on my dollar. But I hope that we will be welcomed for more than our potential to spend money. I have nothing against family who are poor and I hope others treat them with respect. And what a beautiful thing that they are welcome in Rainbow! I’ve learned a lot from them and others from different lifestyles. But the stereotype that we’re all “homeless bums” is definitely laughable. Just about any stereotype is going to be wrong because this is, if anything, a very diverse group. But this is probably one of the safest groups to have around. I feel very comfortable out in the woods with my Rainbow family. I can’t say the same about many other places and groups. I highly encourage open minded folks to come join us. I would feel blessed to have the opportunity of an annual gathering so nearby! And I hope that we will be a blessing to your community!

      • Meg

        Well, there are always going to be some people that hate others for not believing what they do, but I know there are plenty of awesome, loving Mormon people. Some even go to Rainbow, too! And Rainbow definitely isn’t a cult by any stretch of the definition I’ve seen. Rainbow welcomes people of all religious beliefs and non-belief, too. There is no Rainbow dogma people have to believe, no leaders to follow, no money required to join, and no one is being told to shun others for being “non-believers” in Rainbow. It’s about as opposite to a cult as you can get.

      • Joshua

        I grew up Mormon, have been to many of these Rainbow Gatherings. Where do you get off on stereotyping a people as hateful? Point a finger and three more point back to you.

  • Cache Kidd

    It’s gratifying to have all of the preconceived notions about the closed mindedness and fearfulness of LDS people all confirmed in one comment section. Way to REPRESENT, Utah!

    • Meg

      Hi Bob. I may be a freak, but I and most others do have jobs. I also believe in taking time away, though, to take a vacation and be around good people in the woods helping each other and loving each other despite our many differences. So why are you so negative? Maybe you need a vacation. I know a spot where you’ll be welcome :)

  • CromptonFamily

    Love love to see when all our comments are peaceful and its the fearful side that is scared…. Thank you to all who represent us in a true light. EVERY DAY YOU SHOW THE WORLD WHO YOU ARE…

  • Mom

    I worked for the USFS during the last gathering of Rainbow on Evanstan Ranger District. They left the forest cleaner than any boy scout or girl scout troop would ever dream of. They were polite, clean and much easier to deal with than the church groups that leave 5 dumpsters of trash every week in the summer.

    • JIM

      Bob, the thing you need to remember is the Rainbow Gathering is famous for the best LSD around. At least their cult let’s you have good drugs?

      • sophie katt

        Maybe they can help you with your illiteracy, Jim. You spell and punctuate like a 3rd-grader, are you sure your Mommy knows you’re posting on this board?

    • Meg

      Hi Curious! There’s more info here: There are some other pages accessible from here, too: It’s not an “official” site (because there’s no official anything at Rainbow), but it has a lot of good info. Bring stuff to primitive camp with (just what you can pack in and pack out, though), including a bowl or pot, a cup, and a spoon/fork. Donations of food (or money to purchase food) are always welcome, but during the main event there is always lots of food being shared, especially each afternoon at dinner circle. The best way to get to know what it’s all about is to camp further in, away from the parking lot scene (parking lot area tends to have more drinking since alcohol is discouraged inside the gathering — nothing against drinkers, but it is a different vibe). Plug into a kitchen and help out. There are lots of great people who will be appreciative of help and happy to show you the ropes. There are all sorts of theme kitchens! One has hammocks! One has soup! Another focuses on popcorn! There are tea kitchens, too! And kosher kitchens! Then we gather in the evenings for dinner when the kitchens bring food to the circle. On the morning of the 4th, we all are silent until noon, then there’s a big circle at main meadow to “om” for peace. Then we celebrate :D The circle in Montana last year was absolutely amazing! Literally thousands of people from diverse backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, social classes, etc., holding hands and filling up the valley with love and good intentions!

  • chris

    mormons think their better than everybody…when they are very misguieded….look at shutlef crooked as a dogs hind leg!

  • Sera

    I won’t assume all of the resistance to the gathering comes from the LDS church, but I imagine at least some of it does, and this is addressed to the Mormons: Please, remember your history, and question rather legality equals morality. How much persecution did your ancestors endure from the law, or from fellow citizens while the government turned a blind eye? Enough to drive them out of the lush, fertile east and into the desert. Were they wrong because the establishment rejected them? Please don’t confuse legality with morality. Please find compassion for the Rainbow Family, for the many people who all very much need eachother, and have no where left but the national forests.

  • sophie katt

    Wasatch County Manager Michael Davis is a fear-mongering IDIOT. Not only has Davis NEVER WITNESSED the behaviors he fears from Rainbow people, but now he wants to INSTILL FEAR based upon these LIES.

    Michael Davis, stop with the fear-mongering. These people ARE WELCOME in our community, and there’s nothing you and your dogmatic knuckleheads can do about it.
    The Rainbow People are WELCOME here.
    Now go do your job, and stop playing Religious Cop in this town! The Rainbow People are more law-abiding than YOU are – INTIMIDATION AND FEAR-MONGERING IS AGAINST THE LAW!!!

  • NotOneOfThem

    The Rainbows always clean up after themselves and are an excellent boon for the local economy. The people who claim the Rainbows do anything else are just lying.

  • Hoz C Holla

    These types of stories run every year around the Gathering. Some like Bob get all worked up and post nonsense about “dirty hippies”, drugs, nudity and trash left behind when they have no conception of what goes on.
    After the Gathering news drops off and I never see followups on how the Rainbows stay behind to clean up and rehabilitate the site. It would be nice if the media gave at least equal time to the positive instead of always slanting towards the negative.

  • jen

    Really? Moving kids from area? Funny you will try to protect the kids from “outsiders” but you don’t protect them from the pedophiles that live right here.hmmmmm…

  • mlfurm

    From another article: “Already this year, Rainbow Family attendees have crashed a wedding reception looking for food, and a 39-year-old New Hampshire woman was found dead last Sunday near the Duchesne River. Authorities said the woman appeared to have died in her sleep, though it was unclear if drugs played a role in her death.”

    • Meg

      People can die anywhere. I’ve lost a lot of friends and family, well before ever going to rainbow — car accidents, cancer, heart attacks… It’s a good reminder to make the most of every day and tell people constantly how much you love them — something that Rainbow reinforces. But I think it’s sad that the media would bring up a woman dying in her sleep as something against the rainbow gatherings. And from what I’ve heard, there was no reason to suspect drugs. I suspect it’s just mentioned to put the thought in people’s minds and paint a bad picture of her. But it was highly unethical of that original journalist, I think. If the autopsy is still yet to be finished, why say “drugs unclear” and not that it’s unclear that she may have had underlying health issues? Hard drugs and alcohol are heavily discouraged at the gathering anyhow (alcohol is mostly exiled to the parking area, which is why some people get the wrong impression when they show up and don’t go in further). A lot of people are very sad over her death, and to see it used like this is just disgusting. I didn’t know her but she was the best friend of a friend of mine on Facebook. It’s very obvious that she was an amazing person and is very much grieved.

      As far as the wedding thing… that was a very small group and while they may have been traveling to rainbow, it’s hardly like a horde of rainbowers left the gathering (where there is free food for all) to go mess up someone’s wedding reception. If I recall correctly, there was some sort of connection between the group and the wedding reception. So, they had a friend or friends there who told them to come — but maybe not the bride and groom, I guess. But if someone has more info on that, I admit I am curious about that. I’m doing my last grocery trip today before heading out west and will be packing enough that my crew will definitely not be tempted to steal food. We have a great recipe for homemade peanut butter oatmeal bars, too :)

  • SunShine Bear Woman

    hank you Mom and so many others..and for the ones that have bad or feelings of nigatvity. .when I send my prayers up tonight I well ask that your hearts are felled with the light of love..I am a Mother of 4+, a GrandMother of 14+ and we were Blessed with our first great grandchild a year ago..two of our of our grands will head off to college next year..they are all good children & the older ones are strong, loving & giving young men & women. .I worked untill my kness gave out and my husband works 5 to 6 days a week every week..I have been going to Rainbow gaterings on & off since I eas 15yrs old…I know you dont know me but I would do nothing that I think would bring harm to my children, grandchildren or our great grandson and I would love to pack each and everyone of them up and come to the gatering. .yes when you have that many folks together there will always be a few that do things that maybe they should be done or that others fell they shouldnt but for the most part its a Great place to be :-) if your unsure and you can get there maybe you and a loved one should go give the gatering a look, talk to some folks, visit a few kitchens,oh and make sure you go visit Kid Village its great :-) if you go in with an open mind & heart you will find so.much more then you would ever believe <3 my heart is sad that we can not go this year :-( my kness or about gone & dont thank my ol scooter chair would do very good on the we will be Praying & OMing for love n peace from this ol farm house in the foot hills of s.c. Remember to meet negative thoughts with love :-)do not let Iit pull you in & down :-) if you go to the gatering make sure you go into the main gatering :-) and also remember we have a lot of older folks that may need an extra hand or two this yr thst didnt last yr. Some of us are really "Ol Hippies"
    "May You All Walk with Love, Faith, Understanding & Light in Life, in YourSelf & Always in Other "

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