Some 68,000 people came to this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada – and a famous retired U.S. Army general and former presidential candidate may have been one of them.
Wesley Clark, the NATO supreme commander who led the Kosovo war in 1999, was spotted among the crowd of thousands, according to former Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, who tweeted that he spent time with Clark in the Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno:
I spent much of the afternoon in conversation with Larry Harvey, Mayor of #BurningMan & Gen. Wesley Clark, who is here.
â€” John Perry Barlow (@JPBarlow) September 1, 2013
The Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder and Harvard Law School professor isn’t the only one to spot the Wesley. Amy Sacco, another Burning Man attendee, said she saw the former supreme commander of NATO too:
@JPBarlow of Gen Wes is there!!! He is quite the dancer!!! Miss you both!!! Love from Venezia!!! Xxxx Burning Woman
â€” Amy Sacco (@amysacco) September 1, 2013
The annual festival, now in its 27th year, runs through Labor Day. This year’s crowd reached a record-breaking 68,000 people and the theme this time was "Cargo Cult," which celebrated the mythical arrival of an alien visitor, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Clark, who led alliance military forces in the Kosovo war in 1999, may shed light on how the once niche festival may have reached mainstream popularity. A decade ago, the festival drew half as many people as this year’s. In 2012, attendance hit 56,000. The federal Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land, agreed with the Burning Man organization to raise the allowable limit.
Local businesses continue to thrive from the thousands of “burners” that come for the festival of free expression.
"The thing about Burning Man is that it's such a great moneymaker," Randy Robison, who owns Black Rock Bikes in Reno, told KTVN. "We don't have to fund it, advertise for it, or even put police on it. It's an amazing event that keeps growing and that makes money for a lot of businesses here. It's business we can depend on. And it just keeps growing.”