NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — You’ve seen the video of this year’s Burning Man. The large event drawing 80,000 people to the Nevada desert received soaking rains, stranding some cars in the mud. News 2 spoke with a couple who just returned home to Middle Tennessee to see what Burning Man 2023 was like for them.
For husband and wife, Jenny Pruitt and Mark Cleveland, going to their first Burning Man was a bucket list dream come true, even after days of rain.
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“It was three months’ worth of rain in one 24-hour period. We underestimated how much it rained,” said Cleveland.
The rain turned the dry northwestern Nevada desert, known as Black Rock Desert, into a muddy, swampy mess.
“This is a lot like life. You look around in the mud and pick the matter out of place,” said Pruitt in one of the videos she recorded at Burning Man.
“You just accepted the reality and there was very little that you could do about it. And that the best that you can do is just to be happy,” said Pruitt.
The mud was so thick that some vehicles got stuck and roads were closed on the expansive piece of land known as the playa.
“Power connections and cables and boxes and things that were on the hard surface of the playa one minute and then were six inches under mud the next – and still powering things,” said Cleveland. “At one point, I was certainly concerned walking around barefoot in the mud.”
But the two made the best of it—living two Burning Man principles: radical self-reliance and self-expression. They extended their visit a few days longer and even got married again. But this time, at Burning Man 2023, married themselves.
Like all things, eventually, the rain cleared and the sun returned.
“We were seeing news reports about the devastation and the disaster,” said Cleveland. “Most of us in camp were just chuckling because it was nothing like a disaster.”
“We are excited to be alive. That’s what Burning Man was,” said Pruitt.
Another principle of Burning Man is to leave no trace. Everyone is expected to leave the desert as they found it. The couple said that might be a bit more challenging this year considering the mud created from the rain. But they hope to go back again.