Associated Press via Times-Standard, Friday 20 June 1997

Rainbows Gathering
Oregon town struggles with love generation remnants

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (AP) - By the hundreds, they have passed by Bill and Audrey Dunn's RV park, their long, scraggly hair flowing through the windows of a parade of Volkswagen busses. "There goes another herd of them," Bill Dunn said with a scowl. For weeks, these modern-day remnants of the love generation have streamed to Indian Prairie in the Ochoco National Forest for the national gathering of the Rainbow Family.

"Three carloads have stopped to use our showers," Audrey Dunn said. "When I told them it was $3.50 a person, they turned pale and split."

The beads and dreadlocks are easy to spot in this Skoal and Copenhagen country.

One 21-year-old Portland woman named Gypsy said she has felt the wrath of the locals.

"People give dirty looks," she said, "but I smile. People don't need to be that way. We're all sisters and brothers here. Everyone just needs a little heart."

By the time the gathering reaches its peak July 4, as many as 25,000 graying hippies and flower-children wannabes are expected to be on hand. But some local "Three carloads have stopped to use our showers. When I told them it was $3.50 a person, they turned pale and split." Audrey Dunn, RV Park Owner said business people already have had enough.

"They're a different kind of tourist," said Police Chief Jim Soules. "They're stealing. Primarily we've had a lot of shoplifting incidents, and they're bringing in drugs."

Police caught four underage Rainbow gatherers early Wednesday after a high-speed chase in a stolen car. On Tuesday, a couple headed to the gathering with their infant daughter escaped injury when their motor home rolled off a gravel road in the Ochoco Mountains and caught fire.

Earlier in the week, a food basket was stolen from a church pantry after workers told some Rainbow gatherers that the baskets were to be given only to local residents.

The Prineville Chamber of Commerce has issued letters urging businesses to lock dumpsters, watch customers and remind children not to talk to strangers.

The chamber's director, Scott Cooper, said businesses didn't know about the gathering until "dirty, greasy bodies started coming through."

"Hopefully, they'll move on and out as efficiently as possible," he said.

The first groups of Rainbows who arrive at gatherings are known as "Drainbows" [often from places like Arcata] because they are young, often unemployed and have a reputation for criminal activity.

Raymond, a Rainbow from Lake Oswego, said a few Drainbows destroy the Rainbows' loving reputation.

"It give us such a bad name," he said.

(photo: Old man in overhalls sitting on porch with straw hat and cane, sits beside three young folks on a bench; two girls, with a boy or girl inbetween who wears a baseball cap, a soda in one hand a pack at their feet, and reaching out to shake hands with the old man. A sign in the back says "Erickson's Sentry: Happy Father's Day, RibEye Stk 499lb." CAPTION reads: Bud Lucas, left, of Prineville, OR, shares a laugh with Rainbows Nikki, Jellybean and a unidentified woman while sitting outside a local supermarket in Prineville on Tuesday.)

A group of 50 Rainbows offered to do community service to replace the stolen food basket, he said.

Thriftway store owner Bob Komlofske said the Rainbows are welcome, even though some local customers have complained.

"They're very interesting, very colorful," Komlofske said. "We've had a few more shoplifters, but not an incredible increase."

Still, he has hired an extra security guard to watch the store.

Connie Katlin, who owns the Nature's Bounty natural food store, said she attended the first Rainbow Gathering in 1972. As a store owner, she said she will be closely watching for shoplifters. But as a former Rainbow, she also will welcome them.

"They come in barefoot and they don't bother me," she said. "I'm just trying to keep an open eye."