Returning October 29, 2022

Emma Crawford
Coffin Races and Festival

Coffin Races 2021

8/12/21 Update: It's with heavy hearts that we are announcing that the Emma Crawford Coffin Races will not be making it's grand return in 2021. With the increasing impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Manitou Springs have made the difficult decision to cancel the races this year.

Stay tuned for announcements on what events we plan to hold in October, and if you've got a hankering to race coffins, you can sign-up now to race in the 2022 Emma Crawford Coffin Races!

You have questions? We have answers.

After missing the beloved coffin races in 2020, we very much hoped to be racing up Manitou Ave again in 2021. Unfortunately, with the onset of the COVID Delta variant this summer, the City of Manitou Springs decided not to approve moving forward with an event of this magnitude in 2021 to protect the health and safety of attendees and residents/businesses in Manitou Springs. The Coffin Races has, in recent years, attracted over 10,000 visitors to the City, lining sidewalks with walls of people in close proximity and with no capacity limits to come and view this iconic event. Manitou is currently the only community in El Paso County requiring an indoor mask mandate, emphasizing the importance of keeping those who live, work, and visit here safe.
After the Coffin Races were set to be cancelled another year, event planners compromised with the City on still hosting the hearse parade and after-party in the park. There was ample uncertainty about having any “Coffin Race” events whatsoever, so organizers agreed to promote the event as “The Spirit of Emma Crawford Celebration”. Without the use of shuttles and by limiting marketing/attendance, the City authorized the Chamber of Commerce to proceed with plans for a parade/celebration.
This year’s parade will not be the typical coffin team show-off down Manitou Ave. There will ONLY be vehicles in the parade. This allows Eastbound traffic to stay moving and limit detouring while this quick hearse parade leaves from Memorial Park at noon and heads to the roundabout in downtown. Again, races are a much more invasive and costly event that would attract an unsafe level of visitors to Manitou Springs.
Yes, we did livestreaming in the past for Coffin Races and it was fantastic! However, let’s address the number one issue here: financing. Without our sponsors (who come for the benefit of big-time awareness and promotion in front of thousands of people), we do not have the means in which to close the street, barricade the sidewalks, hire event security and traffic control, and so on and so forth. Also, when we close the street, we shut down access to our local businesses – which, in this scenario, would be counterintuitive to the original purpose of hosting Coffin Races – to bring visitors to downtown Manitou Springs! So you see, spending lots of money to close the street to everyone for a livestream, in turn takes revenues directly out of the pockets of our downtown merchants.

Circling back around here- even though coffin racers pay an entry fee, it’s a FRACTION of the cost that runners pay to race in the Marathon. Also, for those who were actually at the Marathon this year, there definitely was an audience as always. It just wasn’t the 10,000+ attendees that Coffin Races will attract.
Yes, races are free but they DO cost a whole lot, which is why we need our sponsors to support this event each year – it wouldn’t be happening without them. The Spirit of Emma Crawford Celebration is strictly bound to 500 attendees as an agreed upon capacity with the City of Manitou Springs. Going from 10,000 to 500 is a big jump. If we were to let tickets be free, there would be plenty of folks who might grab one (or ten) of those limited- quantity tickets and never have intentions of actually showing up. The $5 charge is as minimal as it gets, and your kids are FREE! This allows us to easily keep the event at it’s capacity limit and still provide a Halloween-style party in the park in honor of Emma.
No, you do not need a ticket for the parade! Check it out anywhere between the 600-900 block of Manitou Ave, starting at NOON on Saturday, 10/30. Tickets are only needed to attend the Spirit of Emma Crawford Celebration in Soda Springs Park from 12 pm – 5 pm.
In memory of emma crawford

The tradition continues

In 1995, the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce started the first coffin races in the nation, in memory of a beloved member of Manitou Springs. In the years since, the races have grown into an often-copied-but-never-equaled Manitou Springs tradition.

be part of the race

Register to race

Racers start your engines… er, coffins! If you are ready to run for guts and glory, sign up below! You need 4 pushers and 1 emma (riding in the coffin). 2022 is the 28th year of the running of the coffin races…get your registration form and your $100 fee in early!

Know your history

Emma Crawford came to Manitou Springs in 1889 searching for a cure for her tuberculosis in the the area’s famed cold-water mineral springs. She fell in love with the charming mountain town and her dying wish was to be buried on top of Red Mountain. Unfortunately, Emma succumbed to her illness in 1891. Her lover, a civil engineer on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway named William Hildebrand, honored her wishes. With the help of eleven other townspeople, William carried Emma’s coffin up the 7,200 foot slope and buried her near the summit of Red Mountain.

In 1929, after years of harsh winters and spring rains, Emma and her coffin came racing down the mountainside. The young children who happened upon her remains found only the casket handles, a nameplate, and a few bones.

New Family tradition!

5/5

This event was AMAZING!!!! I’ve discovered our new annual family tradition!!! — Angel H.

Best Halloween Activity!

5/5

If you have not been to the Coffin Races you should go and check it out. It is a hoot. One of the best Halloween activities of the year! —Keith J.

Plan ahead, be prepared!

5/5

…Folks it’s awesome! It’s an adorable tiny town with a Mardi Gras-esque event that is worth it all! Plan ahead and be prepared! We stayed just up the road in Cascade, took a Lyft down for a whole $7.00 and had a blast! — Daisy M.

Yay for free shuttles!

5/5

This was our first year going. It was so cool! I am so glad we read up on the event prior to going! Took advantage of the shuttle system and had no issues arriving or leaving. The online pamphlet was helpful to know where events were taking place and they also provided one coming off the shuttle. Great job, great event! — Donna D.B.

the fun is deadly

Sponsor this event

Sponsoring coffin races is a great way to get your business name out to the thousands of spectators that flock to town on race day. Fill out the sponsor request form and someone will be back with you soon!

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Let us be your guide

Planning your next vacation or just daydreaming about our quaint mountain town? Order a FREE visitors guide and bring the mountains and mineral springs to your coffee table. More of a tree hugger? We get it. Download our virtual visitors guide.