Mary Ann goes to Burning Man

A familiar Nevada face made an appearance this year at the Burning Man festival—actress Dawn Wells of Gilligan’s Island fame. The 71-year-old former Miss Nevada traveled from Reno to the festival on Sept. 3, the same date in 1959 that she departed Nevada for the Miss America pageant.

Wells, who only recently heard about the festival, said she was surprised to learn how much of the event is about art.

“You hear all these rumors that, you know—Woodstock. … You hear all about it and I had no idea what to expect because I didn’t even know much about it until about a year ago. And I was so blown away by what they’ve done in the community with their solar art.”

She spoke of a “big, huge beautiful woman” (the sculpture pictured on the cover of last week’s News & Review) and said, “You’ve got to put that in Reno somewhere.”

But what impressed her most was the tone of the event—“the politeness of everybody, the kindness, the graciousness of everybody”—which she said is a tonic to the world outside, such as the election campaign.

“The people were gentle and friendly. I didn’t see any fighting. I didn’t see any drunks. … I didn’t see anybody—‘Get out of my way’—or any of that kind of thing when you’ve got 45 or 50,000 people there all crowded together. … To see this peaceful celebration was touching.”