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First Theme Camp

Chris Doty founds the first “theme camp” by dressing as Santa, giving away free fruitcake and eggnog at Christmas Camp, which featured live pine trees.

First Art Car

Danger Ranger brings the first art car to Burning Man, “5:04 PM” named after the Loma Prieta earthquake that hit San Francisco during the World Series on October 17, 1989. The crushed in hood of the 5:04 PM looks like someone fell out of a building onto it.

Donner Award Created

Burning Man’s Donner Award was given each year by the Black Rock Rangers to the individual or group who pushed the limits of personal survival through stupidity, inattention, poor timing, or just bad luck. During the early days of Burning Man, survival was a matter of personal choice. The first “Donner Award” is given to a pilot who lands his plane upside down just south of camp.

Black Rock Rangers Founded

There is no gate road. The “Gate” (a barbed wire enclave with porta-potty and cash box) is manned by gun toting future Rangers. They give directions to arriving participants who then attempt to find the event by odometer and compass. People get lost. Danger Ranger founded the Black Rock Rangers to serve a search and rescue function in the Black Rock Desert with a small group of volunteers and 8 CB radios.

Beach to Desert

In 1990, issues of hosting the event on the beach due to an upswell of attendance and lack of a permit interrupted the burn by park police. While the statue was allowed to be erected, organizers were denied to burn it. It was then disassembled and returned into storage. Unable to burn the elaborate sculpture at its current location, several members of the Cacophony Society (which includes John Law and Danger Ranger) who attended this event assisted in relocating the experience to a new spot near Gerlach, Nevada. During Labor Day weekend, the Cacophony Zone Trip #4 “Bad Day At Black Rock” reached the desert as a strange, new venue for the previous beach burn.

Three weeks prior to burning, Burning Man is vandalized — reduced to kindling by chain saws, the result of an accident. The figure is rebuilt in San Francisco with two hours to spare before being transported to desert and destroyed. Once the caravans arrive, Danger Ranger draws a line on the playa and instructs everyone to jump over it, stating that everything would be different on the other side.