While the Rainbow Family has called the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest home since the beginning of June, the Gathering culminates in a prayer for world peace on the Fourth of July. Family members, who refer to each other as brothers and sisters, emerge from their camps and surround the main meadow. They hold hands and complete three “ohms” to spread good intentions into the universe for the coming year.

For family members like Andy “Avocado” Barkan, the Fourth of July at the Rainbow Gathering is the culmination of a new year. Barkan said “Happy New Year” rather than “Happy Fourth of July” when greeting people on the day of celebration. He said the gathering renews his mindset for the following 365 days.

After the prayer, family members lingered in the meadow, participating in drum circles and unabashedly dancing. Rain poured from the sky throughout the afternoon, but no one was hindered. Instead, it was jubilation that took precedence.