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17th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, CO - Oct 29th 2011

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Manitou Springs, CO 2011 Coffin Races.
If youíve never been to Colorado you probably have never heard of Manitou Springs, hell even some people that live in Colorado have never heard about it. Manitou is known for all sorts of spooky goings on. Manitou is home to haunted hotels (which are said to be the majority of all the hotels down there) and hippies. But one thing that this sleepy little valley town is becoming known for is the annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races.

Hereís a little history on Emma Crawford:
Emma Crawford was one of the millions of unlucky plagued by consumption (TB). Her dying wish was to be buried at the top of Red Mountain. Her wish was granted when she passed on Decemberr 4th 1891 at the age of 19. She was engaged to an engineer for the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Her fiancť and a team of 12 pallbearers carried Emmaís remains up to her final resting place. It took two days, but Emma received her burial wishes. However, this was not to be the final resting place of Emma Crawford.
In 1912 her grave was relocated to the southern slope of the mountain, because the railway was being built to go up the mountain. Sadly this was not to be her final resting place either. After years of Colorado weather erosion gave way to her grave and Emmaís coffin slid down the side of the mountain, breaking in the canyon below casting her remains about the area. Her remains were discovered by two local boys playing in the area.
There are conflicting stories to whether Emmaís remains were immediately interred, or if they spent two years in storage while the city tried to find living family to re-intern her remains. Supposedly one of the pall bearers claimed her remains and had them re-inter in Crystal Valley Cemetery, but I have to question that since the grave was left unmarked. In 2004 an official grave site was granted to her

The city of Manitou Springs began honoring Emmaís life and death in 1994, and it is now on its 17th year. The festivities actually begin the night before with the annual wake for Ms. Crawford at Miramount Castle. The wake features Victorian food and beverages as well as actors portraying the castle's original inhabitants Father Jean Baptist Francolon and his mother Marie. Emma is laid out for those attending the wake. The public is welcome to attend the wake as well, for a fee. Which $40 isnít that bad for dinner, and looking at an actress in a coffin for a few hours. The next day is the day of the memorial parade and the races.
This year it was packed, partially because it was really nice. I think all of Manitou was there, along with Old Colorado City residents, and probably half of Colorado Springs showed up, and I think people actually came down from Denver! Every year the hearses line Manitou Ave. to show off all their glory, and what fantastic glory it was. Some of the hearses come every year, but there were a couple of new ones.
Once all of the entries have arrived for the races itís time for the parade. The parade starts off with service men carrying the state flag, and the American flag, followed by local motorcyclists. The parade has change in this manner, and now POW MIA is also honored, Manitou had been a main through fair for bikers going up the mountain to Cripple Creek, theyíve kind of become part of the landscape. After the motorcycles come the hearses! Ah, once the parade gets started so does the acting. And this year was no different from the Umbrella Corporation to the Nazis esq zombie killers (the hearse has come down every year for as long as I can remember).
Then comes the racers. Every year these are fantastic. From Beer girls (well guys dressed as girls) to the Roller Derby girls, they all did a great job. After that is the race, which we missed this year, because the kiddo wasnít doing so well with the crowds. But thatís okay thereís always next year! And it doesnít end with the races either. All of Manitou keeps going after the races with ghost tours, and Halloween parties.

Thanks to my best friend Jen (deadgrl5676 on twitter and I think deadgirl5676 on KR) who can snake her way to the front at any event, we got some awesome pictures. Some of them are a bit blurry, but this was a parade.

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We've seen this hearse around town quite a few times
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Some awesome hood ornaments
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I've posted the rest of the pictures in the Horror/Sci-Fi events section of the forum. If you ever get the chance to come to Colorado defiantly come in October. Gorgeous mountain landscapes, and we are quickly becoming a freak/horror mecca!

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