WASATCH COUNTY, Utah -- About a thousand "Rainbow" people are in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and thousands more are expected for the official Rainbow Family Gathering starting next week.
The self-described "disorganization of non-members" is causing quite a buzz in Wasatch County, and to set local residents at ease, the Rainbow Family held a community meeting Wednesday night. The meeting lasted two hours with several dozen Rainbow people and locals.
The meeting got off to a slow start, but in true Rainbow Family fashion, attendees arranged themselves in a circle. Then, stories started to flow. The purpose of the meeting was to bring Rainbow people and locals together. Gary Stubbs is part of the Rainbow Family, and he spoke at the meeting.
"We would like to alleviate the fears and answer any questions that the local community has because it is the Rainbow Family's desire to be good neighbors," he said.
Residents we heard from said the Rainbow people have been kind visitors. Daryl is a Heber resident and business owner who has encountered the group.
"Unlike what you hear in the media, everybody that's at least come to our business has just been wonderful," he said.
Bill owns a local trailer court and adds: "A number of these people have come to use the shower and I have to give kudos to every one of them. These people have left my place cleaner than it was when they went in."
Jennifer said, "We've only had positive experiences with you guys so far so, thank you."
County officials, like Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis, however, have expressed concern.
"It's something we can't control from happening," he said. "We have to deal with it. It's going to cost the taxpayers of this county extra money."
Davis estimates it will cost the county $50,000 to $75,000 to manage this event. If the numbers stay within that range, he says the county should be able to handle the cost.
Others have expressed concern about the gathering in the past, and officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relocated youth camps scheduled to be held near the gathering.