‘The Original Burning Man’: Historic Town Destroyed By Benedict Arnold Gets Revenge

During the American Revolution, infamous traitor Benedict Arnold, a Norwich native, led the British army on a raid of the coastal Connecticut town of New London, where his forces burnt most of the village to the ground. Today, residents burn the traitor in effigy as an annual celebration and a unique way to remember their history, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The sleepy town of New London is not likely a household name for most Americans. The Long Island Sound city boasts a small population of just over 27,000. But every year participants from all over the state flock to the coast to celebrate New London’s Burning Benedict Arnold Festival, the AP reported.

“I like to jokingly refer to it as the original Burning Man festival,” festival organizer Derron Wood told the AP, comically referencing the notorious Nevada desert festival. (RELATED: Jennifer Rubin Unites With Benedict Arnold)

Connecticut cities were once just one of many American towns who hosted traitor-burning events, revising a popular English tradition, according to the AP. But many of those cities stopped these activities during the Civil War and never reignited the flame.

Wood, the artistic director of New London’s Flock Theatre, brought back his town’s “Burning Man” as a way to celebrate New London’s history, the AP reported.

Revelers marched through the city streets chanting, “Burn the traitor!” before Mayor Michael Bassero torched a giant replica of Benedict Arnold. “Remember New London!” the mayor cried as he set the effigy ablaze. The crowd responded with a chant “U-S-A” as the substitute traitor burned, per AP.

My favorite quirky New London tradition, the Burning of Benedict Arnold pic.twitter.com/Ho9YnVSwhi

— Sarah Gordon (@thesarahgordon) September 10, 2023