A Burning Man Tribute to Special Agent Michael Bolinger
Burning Man typically evokes thoughts of crazy outfits, magnificent structures, unbridled creativity, and, well, unusualness. But at the 2013 Burning Man Festival, which just concluded in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, BLM Law Enforcement and burners alike gathered to celebrate the life of BLM Special Agent Michael Bolinger, who passed away in June 2013 after a battle with brain cancer. The tribute was solemn, unusual, and ended in flames, but in typical Burning Man fashion, was an event rooted in humanity.
One of the traditions of the Burning Man festival is the temple. The temple is revered by the burning man community (known collectively as “burners”), and a place where many people place personal memorials for friends, family and loved ones who have died throughout the year. Thousands of objects, pictures and other remembrance pieces are left throughout the temple all of which will be consumed by fire on the last Sunday night of the event. It is also a place where people go to find peace. Unlike the raucous affair surrounding the burning of the ‘Man’ on Saturday night, the Sunday burn is a very quiet and solemn affair which sees tens of thousands of participants silently watching as the flames carry the memories of the fallen skyward.
The memorial for Special Agent Bolinger took place on Thursday, August 29. A procession of more than 30 law enforcement vehicles left the Incident Command post and drove through Black Rock City to the temple. Bolinger’s widow, Kelly Reynolds, led the procession, as thousands of burners lined the street in tribute.
Special Agent in Charge Dan Love noted that the event was a fitting tribute to Bolinger. “Burning Man was one of Bolinger’s last assignments before he got sick, so the service at the Temple seemed natural. The outpouring of support from the entire community was amazing, and having Kelly there made it even more special.”
Photos by Mark Turney, public affairs specialist, BLM-Nevada Winnemucca District