Burning Man founder Larry Harvey died on April 28 in San Francisco, after having suffered a stroke on April 4, according to an announcement from Burning Man.
Harvey, along with a few friends, hosted a bonfire on San Francisco’s Baker Beach on the summer solstice in 1986 with a few dozen attendees. The event was repeated annually, moved to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in 1991, and, in recent years, has attracted around 70,000 participants.
Burning Man co-founder Michael Mikel, a Reno resident, told the RN&R, “Larry had a rare clarity of vision and a sense of purpose that enabled Burning Man to become what it was. He could see things that other people couldn’t see. … I remember in the early days of Burning Man, on Sundays, I would bring donuts and he would bring dark coffee, and we would sit at the kitchen table and brainstorm ideas.”
Many people helped make the event what it is today, Mikel said, and he credited Harvey as being the one with a particular knack for getting people together and drawing people in.
Stuart Mangrum wrote on the Burning Man Journal blog, “A humanist at heart, Larry did not believe in any sort of existence after death. Now that he’s gone, let’s take the liberty of contradicting him, and keep his memory alive in our hearts, our thoughts and our actions.”
At least two such efforts are already underway. Cheryl Edison, Harvey’s girlfriend, announced on KRON-4 on April 30 that an initiative has been launched to raise funds to complete an interactive robot that Harvey had been planning for this year’s festival. In Reno, a candlelight vigil in memory of Harvey is planned for Sunday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Believe sculpture in Reno City Plaza.