The day dawned cool and foggy and by noon the sun was breaking through. A great day for a Halloween event that has gained national acclaim and it is right in my backyard. The site of this wacky event is Manitou Springs, and the event, The Emma Crawford Coffin Races. It is held in honor of the 19th century spiritualist who was buried on top of Red Mountain above town and in huge rainstorm her coffin was unearthed and it slid all the way to town. This year was the 13th annual, how fitting. It is one of the largest events that Manitou Chamber puts on each year.Thousands of people gathered on Main Street, some in full costume, in anticipation of the pre-race parade of coffin racers and hearses and the leading lady herself as Grand Marshall. The advertised noon start was a bit delayed as is Manitou's way and the announcer of the day's event went on about the festive wake they had the evening before and announced to the crowd that the town now could claim national mention when they were written up last week in the New York Times travel section.
The article refers to it as a Hippie version of Mayberry and they may be right. Currently the official slogan is "Keep Manitou Weird" and I happen to agree with them. Where else can you go, besides New Orleans, to find such an all out celebration of everything that has to do with beads being thrown, flagrant costuming, and all out silliness to bring in the crowds.
The Denver Hearse Club was there in force, I counted 18 hearses. They also attend the Frozen Dead Guy Days event in Nederland, CO held in March each year.
The coffin racers themselves numbered 36 teams in full costume. The homemade racing rig is a wheeled coffin-like conveyance with an Emma-representative riding in it and four people pushing it for a 250-yard run up a slight uphill. They are run in two coffin heats with the winners advancing until the Grand Champion emerges. There are thrills and spills each year. Here are pics of some of the teams with their entourage.
There was everything from Aloha! hula racers to the skeleton crew with their little dog leading the way.
Not only were the racers and some of the crowd decked out in costume but several dogs were all duded up for Halloween. The devil dog was riding shotgun with the coffin rider and the tie die crowd was looked ready to rumble.
Even Elvis was represented here, with the Elvi all in full costume and extra padding.
This event is one of Manitou's largest during the year with second place going to the Annual Fruitcake Toss held in January. This coming year it will be held on January 5th at Memorial. Park.
Hope to see you out and about enjoying what life has to offer, be it wacky or not!