Salvation Mountain creator turns 80
Two filmmakers who made a documentary on Leonard Knight try to erect a hot air balloon for his 80th birthday celebration Sunday. The balloon never was able to get off the ground due to wind issues. (CHELCEY ADAMI PHOTO)
Some visitors had never met Knight before while others have been coming out to see him for years.
“It’s just one of those things. You can’t not come out here,” Scott Erickson said. “It’s mind-boggling to see what he’s done.”
Erickson came with his family and a group of campers from Glamis on Sunday.
Visitors of all ages climbed all over Salvation Mountain and toured the surrounding structures.
One man, while walking through the colorful “museum’s” hallways, heard Knight was actually there and ran out exclaiming, “Is he here? I want to meet that guy.”
Mandy Muenzer of Long Beach said she always wanted to come see Salvation Mountain and upon hearing about the celebration, dropped plans and high-tailed it to La Quinta to pick up her grandmother, Carole Breithaupt.
The pair arrived Sunday and spent some time sitting and speaking with Knight while marveling at his creation.
All day long groups of people such as a Christian biker gangs, Slab City residents or curious newcomers took turns sitting with him and hearing about Knight’s “story of love.”
“I’m thrilled to death that more than 110 people came in today with their cameras,” Knight said. “They’re liking the message that God loves us. I think the world is tuning into a big love story.”
Two filmmakers created the documentary, “A Man and His Mountain: The Story of Leonard” and screened it inside the “museum” Sunday afternoon.
Documentary director Andrew Doyle and producer Jeremy Palmer of MCRN Studios also hoped to fly a hot air balloon for Knight’s birthday but wind issues prevented the takeoff.
Knight’s friend and caretaker Kevin Eubanks said Knight was so excited from the day’s activities Sunday he could barely sleep Sunday night and called it the “best day of his life.”
“The thing was it was a very family-style birthday for him. He had a wonderful time,” Eubanks said. “He couldn’t wait to get out to the mountain the next morning.”
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org