Burning Man's Driving Ban Lifted, Mass Exodus Begins

05:24 05.09.2023

Stranded Burning Man festival goers began their journey home on Monday as the driving ban in the northern Nevada desert was finally lifted. Torrential downpours had transformed the festival grounds into a muddy mess, leaving approximately 64,000 attendees trapped on site. Exodus operations officially started at 2 p.m. local time, with a continuous stream of vehicles and RVs slowly making their way out of the area. Despite the lifting of the ban, organizers advised those still in attendance to delay their departure until Tuesday to alleviate road congestion.

The festival, known for its alternative and avant-garde performances, was hit by a half-inch of rain on Friday, causing extensive flooding and foot-deep mud. The entrance to Burning Man was subsequently shut down on Saturday, leaving participants stranded and unable to leave. However, some individuals, including comedian Chris Rock and DJ Diplo, decided to brave the conditions and walk out of the Black Rock Desert. Diplo documented their journey on Instagram, revealing that they had walked for six miles before hitching a ride in the back of a fan's pickup truck.

As the weather conditions improved and the roads began to dry, festival-goers were finally given permission to drive out of the site. However, organizers warned that the playa (the festival grounds) was still muddy and difficult to navigate in certain areas. They also urged attendees not to walk out of the desert, as Diplo and Chris Rock had done, to avoid potential dangers.

Despite the challenging circumstances, spirits remained high among the participants. Southern California photographer Scott London described the festival as being "a little bit dirty and muddy," but emphasized that the party was still going strong. Many festival-goers adapted to the situation by sharing RVs for sleeping and offering food and coffee to one another. Philadelphia photographer Rebecca Barger even danced for hours in foot-deep clay to the beats of incredible DJs.

Tragically, one person died during the festival, although organizers confirmed that the death was not related to the adverse weather conditions. Details about the incident have not been disclosed. President Biden was briefed on the flooding at Burning Man, and the White House stated that administration officials were monitoring the situation and in contact with state and local authorities.

While some attendees started their journey home, others planned to stay to witness the traditional burning of "the Man," a large wooden effigy shaped like a man, on Monday night. The burning of a wood temple structure, which marks the end of the festival, was postponed due to the weather conditions and is now scheduled for Tuesday night.

Despite the challenges posed by the flooding and muddy conditions, Burning Man attendees displayed resilience and a sense of community. Elizabeth Downing, a festival-goer, expressed feeling safe and comfortable amidst the adversity, highlighting the unity that emerged during the challenging circumstances.

As the exodus from Burning Man continues, participants will reflect on their unique experiences at the festival and eagerly anticipate the burning of the effigy and the wood temple structure, symbolic events that will bring closure to this year's gathering.

/ Tuesday, September 5, 2023, 5:24 AM /

themes:  Philadelphia  Pennsylvania  California  Nevada

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