Every Labor Day weekend for the past 30+ years a growing group of “free spirits” has gathered to create a temporary city of art and “radical self-expression”. The artsy group of tens of thousands of participants meet each year in the desert of Nevada for a loosely structured festival where “anything goes.” The festival is a celebration of art, music and any other form of creative expression you can imagine.
Most participants view the gathering where money isn’t valued, but instead ideas and community. It’s been called a “socialist utopia.” However, Burning Man has evolved into a huge money maker and according to Fortune Magazine:
“It’s become Silicon Valley’s vacation,” Law said.
Indeed, the influx of wealth is a big point of contention among long-time attendees. Tech executives, in some cases, arrive in private jets and spend their time in luxury camps catered with sushi and tended to by personal valets. How much extra money, if anything, the event collects from such camps is unclear
The group that puts on Burning Man, meanwhile, rakes in millions of dollars from selling tickets and parking passes to more than 60,000 attendees. It’s a complex operation with a full-time staff and a huge budget that dwarfs many big businesses.”.
Meanwhile, the Saturday night before Labor Day is the culminating event in which a 50 foot tall wooden structure of “the man” is burned while participants cheer and party while it falls. Participants have been known in the past to run through the flames as a symbol of rebirth.
This year, a 41-year-old man evaded rangers and security officers as he plunged into the flames. Due to the nature of a 50 foot blazing wooden tower, rescuers were unable to follow the man into the flames. Once they were able to get to him, it was too late. He later died of his injuries.
H/T Daily Mail
“A man rescued from the flames at the Burning Man festival’s signature burning of a towering effigy has died after being airlifted to a hospital.
Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said the man ran through a human-chain of security officers at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday during the Man Burn event at the counter-culture festival.
The sheriff said the man was rescued by firefighters and later died at the UC Davis hospital burn center in California.
He has been identified as Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, who grew up in McAlester, Oklahoma, but was living in Switzerland, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
More than 70,000 people are enjoying the art and music celebration in the Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles north of Reno.
The nine-day event culminates with the burning of a towering 40-foot effigy made of wood. Attendees have tried to run into the flames as a symbol of rebirth.
Festival organizers didn’t immediately respond when asked for comment.
Crowds were horrified when the reveler made a beeline for the giant wooden effigy and was engulfed by the flames on Saturday night.
He had to dodge a number of rangers and law enforcement personnel in order to reach the fire, which stretches approximately 50 feet into the air.
Festival organizers earlier issued a statement through its website to say that at ‘approximately 10.30pm Saturday evening, a male participant at the annual Burning Man event in Northern Nevada broke through a safety perimeter and into into a fire. Black Rock City fire personnel rescued him from the fire.’ “
Reports since have found no alcohol in the man’s system, although there may be other substances. Whether this man was high on something or caught up in emotion of the moment, we don’t know. Whatever caused him to run into the flames, it was a tragic moment I’m sure the crowd will never forget.
Even though nudity and other mature (often vulgar) subject matter are part of the culture at Burning Man, children are welcome. I’m not sure who or why someone would bring a child (past themes of the festival include Hell and Fertility, so you can imagine the “art” they are exposed to) to this event. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope no children witnessed this man’s death.