The DPW Has a Parade

“Nothing says ‘thank you’ like something.”

That’s one of the signs that’s carried along on the DPW’s annual parade through the streets of Black Rock City, as  worker crews take a ride, do a little showing off and offer  BRC residents a chance to show some love.

The mutant vehicles straight out of “Mad Max,” and some very striking individuals (“pirate carny tricksters” as Niko Peachez puts it)  start out at the Depot and make their way up 5:30. They take a couple of turns and go through some neighborhoods, to the general alarm of  some of the populace.

Overall, though, people seem to get it, and they rush up with a can or two of cold beverages, all the better to keep the restoration of the playa sufficiently lubricated.

There was some unlikely music at the “rave” that followed the parade.

This year’s parade ended with a round-up in front of the Heavy Machinery yard, where Weld Boy had engineered a DPW dirt rave. An art car played Katy Perry tunes and “Call Me Maybe” and other wildly unlikely songs. It should be noted that the DPW lapped it up and danced the afternoon away with a fury.

It should also be noted that “Free Bird” was also on the soundtrack, and everyone knew why, and everyone could see what Rachel was going through. It was a glorious day for a parade, but obviously there was some bittersweet mixed in with the good times. Here are some pics from the day:

You don’t want to mess with the zombie hunter
Remember, one finger up means “I love you.”
Bananas were part of the show.
Most of the time Heather has a welder’s mask on.


What’s a parade without animals?


Don’t shoot!


Here’s looking at you, kid.


It’s all about the Art Art Art.


Fresh from Chicago.


Parties need fluffers, for sure.


For once, Joe the Builder was not wearing a red shirt for the parade.


Mike the Welder, the Yalie, the art community builder in Gerlach.
For Rachel, maybe a day for letting go a little.



About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

2 thoughts on “The DPW Has a Parade

  • my first burn in 03, I saw the dpw parade. it seemed to me that they were the only collection of people who looked like they belonged in the desert. I said something like…. “I’m going to be one of THEM some day”.

    9 years later, I’m still here.

    nice job black rock city. While most of the infrastructure has already departed the playa, it doesn’t seem like a sea of Red Moop zones. While we won’t know until the line sweeps descend on the city blocks, the forecast is good.

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