Burning Man founder Larry Harvey died Saturday at the age of 70.
At the celebration's conclusion, a towering wooden effigy is burned to the ground.
Harvey created Burning Man with friend Jerry James on a San Francisco beach in 1986, later moving the annual event to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
Harvey had a stroke on April 4. The idea behind Burning Man was to commemorate the beginning of the summer solstice. "And he said, 'Can you say that again?' And I did and we did it". Harvey was also an activist, artist and philanthropist. "A network of dreamers and doers", is how the gathering is described on Burning Man's website.
Festival-goers pay anywhere from $425 to $1,200 a ticket to travel to the scorching hot desert, according to the Associated Press, where they bring their own food, camp out and partake in a range of events.
It wasn't until afterward, Harvey recalled, that he had the epiphany that led to Burning Man.
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After Harvey suffered the stroke, organizers assured attendees that the Burning Man event would continue to grow, regardless of Harvey's condition.
"As he told one of us recently, Larry liked to create "scenes" that made people consider the world in a new way". He didn't fit a mold; he broke it with the way he lived his life. He was 100 percent authentic to his core.
Although known for retaining its joyful celebrative atmosphere as it grew from a small gathering to one of huge proportions, Burning Man occasionally had its problems. That same year, three other people were injured when a drunk driver ran over their tent. That's when a skeletal five-story-tall wood and neon man-shaped statue, stuffed with fireworks, is set ablaze. That same year a man was killed when his motorcycle collided with a van carrying people to the festival. "It's our identity", said Harvey, who often spoke against the commodification of popular culture.
Harvey remained president of the Burning Man's board as well as "chief philosophic officer" and was heavily involved in the planning of every year's Burning Man festival until the time of his death.
Harvey is survived by his son, Tristan, his brother, Stewart, and his nephew, Bryan.
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