Redmoon, Chicago’s 24-year-old theater company known for “Spectacle Art” and free summertime community performances, partners with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) to present the inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival on October 4th.
A new and totally free urban ritual celebrating Chicago’s grit, greatness and renewal following the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as well as showcasing the rich diversity of neighborhoods that have arisen since, the Great Chicago Fire Festival follows a series of citywide Summer Celebrations that culminate in a unique public River Bazaar and pyrotechnic Grand Spectacle on the main branch of the Chicago River.
Kicking off the day is a community River Bazaar and the Grand Spectacle on the main branch of the Chicago River, between the State Street and Columbus Drive bridges. Beginning 3 p.m., along Chicago’s newly developed riverfront, the River Bazaar will feature 15 designated areas, each representing an official Fire Festival Neighborhood. Within each area, Redmoon’s neighborhood partners will sell crafts, goods and food. Photos of the community members, snapped throughout the summer with The Mobile Photo Factory, will adorn each neighborhood area. At sundown, tens of thousands are expected to gather on bridges and riverbanks as the Grand Spectacle begins. Television and film actors Jesse Spencer and Taylor Kinney, both stars of the hit NBC drama Chicago Fire, will ignite the festivities – literally – as they light one of 15 massive “Fire Cauldrons” that will be lowered from bridges to watercraft waiting on the Chicago River below.
Central to the Spectacle, Redmoon premieres the Fire Sculptures on three moored, floating platforms in the middle of the Chicago River. The Sculptures are symbolic objects designed in two movements: an exterior house-like structure – an artistic representation of pre-Fire Chicago architecture – that burns away magnificently, and an interior that rises out of the flames to reveal a symbolic core, celebrating the city’s rise after the historic 1871 fire and its prosperity since. Fire dancers on the riverbanks, a Victorian-era-inspired steampunk boat and the Chicago Children’s Choir join in the festive performance as the Fire Sculptures are transformed, all followed by a dazzling grand finale fireworks display set to music, designed by Las Vegas-based Pyrotecnico.
Tens of thousands are expected to participate in this city-wide signature event that so genuinely reflects the city that it becomes a cultural and economic beacon for Chicagoans, the nation, and the world.
You can get geared up for the festival at one of these two events happening in September:
Great Chicago Fire Festival · Preview Event: “Love Under Fire: The Story of Bertha and Potter Palmer,” Tuesday, September 30, 6:30-8 p.m. Experience The Great Chicago Fire through a film showcasing the story of one of Chicago’s great families, Bertha Honoré and Potter Palmer. Their passion for one another and the city they loved would inspire Chicago to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of The Great Chicago Fire. Immediately followed by a panel discussion with Executive Producer Lori McGunn, Director Amelia Dellos and notable Chicago historians. (Great Chicago Fire Festival produced by Redmoon in partnership with the City of Chicago is October 4, on the Chicago River. For details visit chicagofirefestival.com.) Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor North
Great Chicago Fire Festival Kick-Off, Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 12 noon, Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. The Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and Redmoon present the Great Chicago Fire Festival Kick-Off, an interactive event featuring live music by Redmoon’s original spectacle contraption, The Mobile DJ Unit, a cross between a Segway, a classic car, and a DJ booth, an underground Chicago DJ mixes live tunes while an onboard bubble machine leaves fields of delicate bubbles in hie wake. Also present are eight interactive Great Chicago Fire Festival Writing Kiosks. Participants can write themselves a short letter prompted by the two Great Chicago Fire Festival mission prompts “I overcome…” and “I celebrate…”, The letters will be included as a part of the Great Chicago Fire Festival performance on Oct 4th and ceremonially burned as a part of the Grand Spectacle acknowledging the fire of 1871 and the rebirth of our city.