RENO, Nev. - Thousands of celebrants danced, hugged and cheered as the annual Burning Man counterculture festival climaxed with the traditional torching of its namesake object on the northern Nevada desert.
Accompanied by a spectacular fireworks show, the 40-foot-tall wooden figure known as "The Man" went up in flames Saturday night and tumbled to the Black Rock Desert, 110 miles north of Reno.
The eclectic art festival was to end its weeklong run Monday after the burning of more artwork Sunday night, including the "Belgian Waffle," the "`Temple of Lights" and the "Temple of Hope."
Organizers bill the festival as "an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance."
"I like the idea of temporary art," Marissa Long-Peak, 23, of Portland, Ore., told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "There is something a lot more unique about destroying something you create."
No major problems were reported by authorities.
The crowd peaked at 39,100 at midnight Friday, up 6.6 percent over last year, said Jamie Thompson, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The event is held on public land managed by the agency.
The bureau had issued 64 citations to participants through Sunday afternoon, including 35 for drug violations, he said. Fifteen people were taken to the hospital in Reno for various medical emergencies.
The cause of death of a male participant who went into a seizure Tuesday was listed as cardiac arrest. But the man suffered a head injury in a fall the previous night and an autopsy was planned, Thompson said.
"Everybody involved is in agreement that this is the smoothest Burning Man so far," Thompson said. "As a general rule, it's getting better with every passing year."
The event got its start in 1986 when Larry Harvey and Jerry James burned a wooden effigy on San Francisco's Baker Beach. It moved to Nevada's desert in 1990. This year's art theme was "Hope and Fear: The Future."