Trick or treating, costumes, parades, parties… these are the standard Halloween festivities that take place every October. There are a gazillion ways to celebrate Halloween, but this year, we’re taking a closer look at one town’s very unusual seasonal tradition – coffin racing.
The Legacy of Emma Crawford
It all began in the late 1800s. A young girl suffering from tuberculosis, named Emma Crawford, moved to Manitou Springs with the notion that the Springs would improve her health. Sadly, she passed away in December 1891, with a final wish to be buried on top of nearby Red Mountain. Her fiancé, with the help of 11 other men, carried Emma’s body to the top of the 7,200-foot peak.
In 1929, after years of stormy weather, Emma’s remains washed down the side of Red Mountain, leaving only her casket handles, a nameplate and a few bones to be found. Ever since, it’s been said that she haunts Red Mountain.
Thus Began Coffin Racing (Some Time Later)
In 1995, the community of Manitou Springs created an annual coffin race to honor the myth, legend and woman. What began as a race has since transformed into an entire festival, each October, in her honor – The Emma Crawford Festival.
The 19th annual coffin race and parade will take place on October 29th, 2016 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
So, just what does a coffin race entail, you may be wondering? To compete a coffin race and a team of four runners dressed in costume, as well as a someone dressed as Emma, are needed. The four runners push the coffin holding the Emma lookalike. The first to the finish line wins!
To find out all the festival details and entrance requirements, visit here. This is truly a one-of-a-kind event, and tons of fun. Thousands of spectators line the streets of Manitou Springs to cheer on the 70 coffin teams as they race down Manitou Avenue. Participants and attendees travel from all over the country to experience this bizarre, yet internationally acclaimed event.
“There are plenty of strange Halloween-related events around, but the coffin race takes the cake for the most bizarre fun you’ll ever experience,” remarks Jay Rocha, General Manager of Garden of the Gods Club & Resort. “It’s not just any old coffin racing, the participants go all out for this event. Decorating and creating elaborate coffins and outfitting them with wheels in the hopes their coffin will be the fastest. We look forward to this event each year, there’s nothing like it and you definitely have to experience it to truly understand.”
The race itself is preceded by a parade of coffins and antique hearses. Though it may sound slightly morbid, the overall vibe is one of great fun and excitement. It’s truly an experience the entire family can enjoy.
October is also an ideal month to visit Colorado for a variety of reasons, but mostly due to its breathtaking beauty and delightfully crisp autumn air.
If Halloween is your favorite holiday of the year, and you constantly find yourself searching for the wackiest events, this is definitely one to check out.
Whether you’re in town for the Emma Crawford Festival, or just because, we recommend staying at either Cheyenne Mountain Resort or Garden of the Gods Club & Resort, both located in nearby Colorado Springs.
Cheyenne Mountain Resort sits directly beneath majestic Cheyenne Mountain, offering unbelievable views. Garden of the Gods Club offers a front row seat to the spectacular display of giant red rock formations at the iconic Garden of the Gods park.
Coffin racing picture from Manitousprings.org