True Grit – Afterburn Report

2010 True Grit Afterburn Report
Saturday, December 4, 2010


True Grit is Monterey’s Official Burning Man Beach Burn that is held the first Saturday of every December. The first year this was done was 2006, and we had 4 people. Not expecting too much of a larger turnout (despite adding a dj booth, an extra firepit and a few rounds of flogging bingo) in 2007, we did not think to get permits. When over 150 people showed up, we were amazed, as were the police. The police were very accommodating and stated that they had never broken up a party that large on the beach before, nor one so wonderfully organized. We called the Police Department the Monday after the event, and asked how to make this event legal. After working with the City on some regulations and boundaries, we now have a wonderful spot to host these events as often as we like!

Due to our location being on a public beach, we are not able to create boundaries or “gates” on the event, and therefore are unable to charge an admission price. We set up a suggested donation payment system, with folks that donate ahead of time receiving event-specific schwag.


Without having actual gates or boundaries, there is no way to really gauge exactly how many people actually attend. Guestimates for numbers that drifted in and out of the event range from 200-300 people.


We asked for a donation of $10 per person to cover the expenses. Pre-event we received $325 and during the event we received $365 for a total of $680.

Costs incurred during the event:

Insurance: $295
Permits: $400
Laminates/Signage: $50
Infrastructure: $130

After our burn in July 2010, which was a mild financial disaster, our coffers were drained and we were left with a starting budget of under $100 for this burn. Thankfully, Creech, the regional contact for Santa Cruz, stepped in and donated $695 towards the production of this burn by covering our insurance and permit costs. Without this gift, we would not have been able to make this burn happen. Also, this now leaves us some starting capital to get back on our twice-a-year campout schedule, which are the events that make the operating capital for us throughout the year. Thank you Creech!


Historically, the Monterey area has had trouble getting the greeter booth staffed, and this event was no different. With event looming, and very few greeter staff, we recruited the DJs to man the greeter booth throughout the day. In the process, we lost a few DJs, but gained a wonderful group of greeters that were excited to participate and met new people and talent in the process. This turned out to be a very successful collaboration connecting the performers to the success and energy of the event. We will be doing this again.

We had trouble recruiting key staff members that would take responsibility before the event, leaving several positions unmanned, but created a few connections at the event that will hopefully bring more fruitful volunteers in the future.

The volunteers that did step up did an incredible job and pulled not only their weight, but the weight of the positions that were unmanned.

Our biggest frustration for volunteers was getting Rangers. We only had two rangers for the entire day. If there were a way to access a bulletin board to contact rangers or submit for a request, that would be really helpful. Without an active community of rangers in this area, it is difficult to find rangers to help at our events.


The Monterey Fire Department is very generous with our fire permits and it is open season after dark at the True Grit beach burn. Our local fire guru, Celsius, stepped up as the fire wrangler and hosted a safety meeting at 4:20 (oh shush, it was 30 minutes prior to sunset) and created a great connection between the visiting fire performers. All performances were done safely and successfully to the thrill of the crowd.

Theme Camps and Public Participation

There was one large theme camp in attendance, Temple of Ra. They set up a large 25′ square temple which provided a wonderful meet and chill space for the participants.

With the weather threatening to rain much of the day, a few other organized groups set up various shade structures and created meet points for the public to gather at. This was very successful and we felt more of a social connection between people than we have at past events.

One person brought an extensive display of Burning Man memorabilia. Super cool!

Leave No Trace

With several trash and recycle barrels set up all over the area, we had no issue with garbage. The LNT lead made a great relationship with one of the homeless guys on the beach and he took all the recyclables off our hands.

We have the LNT dialed down for these burns. Six boxes, six bags, everyone helps.
Good stuff.

In true Leave No Trace fashion, we went back to pick up the burn barrel and that was gone too. Our fault, and hopefully someone is enjoying it somewhere and keeping warm.


One ranger reported two incidents:

About 8:30 p.m. when a group of girls started undressing on the sidewalk between the carpark and the entry. I walked over and politely asked them to put their clothes back on, and pointed out that walking around semi nude could threaten the event for the following year if the wrong folks saw them. They apologized very nicely, and got dressed without any further problem.

The second incident occurred about 15 minutes later when an older gentleman (about 50) decided that he would follow those same girls as they headed north in the dark. I had noticed earlier that he had paid a little too much attention to the girls when they were disrobing earlier. As he began to follow them I walked over to him, and politely pointed out that I had noticed him, and that perhaps he should head the other direction. He got the point and returned to the beach.


Never a problem. For the first time in six legally permitted events, the police didn’t even stop by to check our permits.

Next Time

More promotion, and earlier. Our long-term goal with this event is that we can have it twice a year, and hopefully not have to even ask for donations. It would be nice if we could just host this event for the Monterey Community and have the permits paid for through other events throughout the year. We are still figuring this out, but each event builds on the next and its always fantastic!

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