Over 10,000 Hippies Gather in Orgeon to Pray for World Peace

By Jeff Barnard, Associated Press

 8.13 a.m. EDT (1213 GMT) July 2, 1997

 OCHOCO NATIONAL FOREST, Ore. As a cold dawn broke over Indian Prairie, a loud cry bounced off the grassy hills and filtered through the tall ponderosa pines.

"WE LOVE YOOOOOUUUUUUU! COME HAVE SOME PANCAKES!" was the rallying cry at the 25th national gathering of the Rainbow Family.

Its hippies, old and new roam, from gathering to gathering to stoke the 1960s ideals of peace and love.

The kitchens that feed everyone for free have been cooking around the clock to make sure none of the 11,000 people in this forest encampment goes hungry.

They're been trickling in all month. And twice as many people are expected for July Fourth, when the group that evolved from the '60s counterculture back-to-nature movement will pray silently for world peace.

"What we share here is just beautiful, beautiful magic," said Sarra Sunshine from Lisqueti Island, British Columbia. "Some people say they come to the gathering and their cheeks get sore from smiling."

In nearby Prineville, a timber and cattle town of just 6,000 people, not everyone is smiling at the tie-dyed crowd.

"This is a working county  ranchers, farmers and loggers  and they don't cotton to panhandlers. I just want our people to stay away from them," said County Judge Fred Rodgers.

Rachel Carnahan, who works in her mother's beauty shop, wasn't deterred. She took a load of elk and venison to the Rainbow crowd. "We didn't pass a person who didn't wave and say, `Peace and love."'

The federal government is wary. The Forest Service budgeted $500,000 to pay for a special team to manage the gathering.

So far, there have been a smattering of arrests for minor offenses such as alcohol and marijuana possession.

Rainbows finance their gatherings by passing the Magic Hat, generally raising $1 per person to pay for food and cleaning up.

The gathering attracts a range of people, from homeless youngsters to businessmen like Mark Slagh, a power-train quality consultant to Ford Motor Co. who goes by the Rainbow name Question Mark.

"This is the spiritual center of my life," he said. "The spiritual energy I feel with thousands of brothers and sisters all praying for peace  there is no higher calling."

(c) 1997 Associated Press.