This year was incredible for the Gate. Thirty-five “Black Shirts” and more than 40 volunteers greeted and tore tickets for 25,659 participants. The Gate staff searched 99% of the vehicles entering Black Rock City for stowaways, guns, illegal fire works, renegade sound systems, dogs, all terrain vehicles, and motorcycles – just to name a few items.
The Gate staff had a new problem this year: counterfeit tickets. The Gate staff caught an estimated 99% of the counterfeit tickets and assisted the box office in the collection of information about the perpetrators from distraught and angered participants who still had to buy full-price tickets. Many, if not all, of the participants were grateful for the help and honest consideration of the Gate staff and volunteers during what was a very disappointing beginning to their Burning Man adventure.
The Gate staff took over patrols of the perimeter, which at first was a tactical nightmare. The perimeter must be patrolled to keep out gatecrashers. Key “Black Shirts” stepped up and took this task by the reins, and we succeeded. “Deep Playa Scouts”, newly implemented this year, were the people out in the desert running as stealthily as possible with whatever technology we had on hand for the shift. These Scouts used radar, infrared binoculars, and night vision, among other things. The staff running perimeter patrols interacted with 50-95 vehicles along the fence line. These numbers do not reflect the possibility of multiple sightings or interactions with the vehicles intercepted, due to the fact that often the same vehicle and perpetrators were stopped on more than one occasion. Perimeter trash filter/fence repairs were fewer in 2001, from the reports given to us from DPW.
The Gate and Perimeter staff do not just show up and start working. We begin meeting in January with budget concerns ,a review of what worked and didn’t work from the year’s event, design review of the camp perimeter and the Gate, and discussions on what new ideas can be implemented for the year. The staff is so spread out across the United States that a lot of matters are taken care of via the Internet. For 2000-2001 we put together a training packet with all of the team’s protocols. Three training sessions this year consisted of a little bit of lecture and role-playing, and most importantly FUN.
The population totals as of noon daily were:
Monday 6,758 Tuesday 10,549 Wednesday 14,955 Thursday 18,933 Friday 23,980 Saturday 25,659 Sunday 17,372 Monday 7,207