SALT LAKE CITY – About 8,000 members of counterculture group the Rainbow Family have arrived in eastern Utah for the annual gathering’s final celebration, officials from the U.S. Forest Service said Friday.
Members join hands in prayer for world peace, releasing one big “Om.” The ritual takes place every year on July 4.
“It’s just so beautiful,” said Karena Gore, who traveled from Montana. It’s her fourth time participating in the gathering, she said earlier this week as she listened to friends strum a guitar and sing along to a Cee-Lo Green song. The prayer is one of her favorite parts of the gathering, she said.
Authorities say it’s not all peace and quiet on the mountain: On the eve of the celebration, they arrested 18 people suspected of crimes ranging from drug possession to grabbing the reigns and bridle of an officer’s horse. Others were arrested in connection with shoplifting, drunken driving and public urination, Jared Rigby, Wasatch County Sheriff chief deputy, said in an email statement.
The gathering has rankled nerves this month in neighboring Heber City, overloading the local jail with people charged with misdemeanors, officials said. A roving federal court room also rolled up to a meadow about a mile away from the expansive campsite. A judge processed the charges that included drug possession and having a dog off a leash.
Last year, the gathering drew 10,000 to Montana, where officials put together a list of advice for other forest service workers policing the gathering in future years.