Rainbow Family gatherers explain who they are; why they are here
BEAVERHEAD DEERLODGE NATIONAL FOREST, Mont. - The Rainbow Family gathering is set to kick off in just a few days.
The last time it was held in Montana, 23,000 people attended.
NBC Montana went to the Rainbow Family gathering where hundreds of people are arriving each day. We dug deeper to find out who these people are, and why being part of the Rainbow Family is so important to them.
Rainbow Family gatherer "Yeti" explained, "it's really about a spirit of love."
That seemed to hold true. The whole time we were at the gathering, we saw people hugging and welcoming each other.
The gatherers told NBC Montana there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the event.
Gatherer "Echo" said, "there's a really bad name around 'hippie.' People get scared when they hear that, and they don't really understand that we just want to get along with everybody."
We asked how they feel about local Montanans not really wanting to get along, with the spike in crime due to the influx of people, and the idea that the gathering will damage the forest.
Gatherer "Asa" said, "I think they don't really know these people at all because everybody out here is very conscientious about their impact on the environment."
They said crime is everywhere, not just within the Rainbow Family.
"Laughing Deer," who came with his wife and baby to the gathering from Cleveland, said there is negativity wherever you go.
"It doesn't take the Rainbow people or people coming out here for you to experience negative things," he said.
He explained he wishes people would come and see the event for themselves, because they are a peaceful and welcoming group of people from all walks of life.
He said, "you can get monks from India to top notch brain surgeons known all around the world."
The gatherers told us they care for the land and are praying for peace. And, they are excited to be sharing beautiful Montana with its locals.
"We accept everybody," said Yeti. "We want you to come we want to share Montana with you. This is beautiful, this is awesome. There are people here from Florida, Ohio, Hawaii, from everywhere coming here to enjoy this.
The Forest Service reports that as of Sunday morning, there were 5,500 people at the event and 800 cars. They expect the numbers to grow continuously until July 4.