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2013 Firebird Festival Goes up in Smoke

Organizer issue a statement regarding the decision.

Organizers of the annual Firebird Festival have called off this year's event which features the burning of a huge wooden Phoenix.

The search for a safe place to burn the bird (which in past years had been held on the site that is now home to the new Borough Hall) found nowhere that Borough officials, residents and organizers could agree on in terms of safety.

Organizer Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg sent Patch the following statement regarding the decision:


What in my mind makes the Firebird Festival such a good festival, is that fact that it involves the whole community.

We have struggled this year to find a site, that can live up to our expectations. Rather than letting the festival slowly dwindle, because of too many compromises, we rather not have the festival , and instead doing something different. To me it is not a loss of a great festival, but a sensitive action to the changes around us. How can we maintain the creative juices flowing freely. We have already signed ourselves up to be part of the Christmas parade (Friday, December 6th)- yes it is not the Firebird festival, but being part of the Christmas parade, is in my mind a wonderful vessel to  multitudes of creativities. A blank slate, where we all have a possibility to unleash our creativity and excitement. We will make some play shops, where we will make lanterns -  this link is a good inspiration - http://youtu.be/-evmmJxw4hQ

We can have drummers, colorful costumes, firebird dancers, fire spinners , Morris dancers, a firebird float ?,  giant puppets , and much more. Having had the Firebird festival for nine years, gives us a frame - a permission to  expand on what already was created, and I believe we can have a lot of fun with it. If you see yourself partake in this new exploration, please let us know."
Wendy Wassmer September 03, 2013 at 07:12 AM
What happened to having the festival at Friendship Field!?!
J Monson September 03, 2013 at 07:41 AM
This isn't the end of the story. Many Phoenixville residents are trying to find a solution, and a Facebook page has been created to keep everyone informed and to encourage participation: https://www.facebook.com/dontcancelthephoenixvillefirebird An August council meeting touched on the Friendship Field proposition. Here's what was written about it on the new FB page: "1. Fire chief has issue with festival being in Friendship field. He said it was too tall for the size of the area and proximity of the houses. Initially he said it would have to be scaled down for him to be comfortable. When someone (Bauers) asked whether there were a size he would be comfortable with, he said no, he would not be comfortable with any size. Kovaleski said something about the fact that we have a "different park" that would be more conducive to the festivities but no one asked him where that was. 2. Henrik states that Friendship Field is still Plan B. He was hoping that Manny would work with him to make it closer to the Gay St. Bridge. Henrik also pointed out that it was considered safe in its old location (new Borough Hall parking lot) at its present height and that the committee has lots of experience in planning it and they have devised ways to cause it to burn with fewer embers being created. 3. Parking issue: can we do shuttles, etc. Council members expressed concerns over parking spaces if it takes place on the north side. (Kovaleski) Henrik says parking is not ideal for the Friendship Field location but it's not ideal at its present location either." The next Borough Council Meeting is 9/10, 7pm. If you would like to listen to decisions about the Firebird Festival, go to the meeting.
Elizabeth Mattox September 03, 2013 at 07:48 AM
This decision will have a negative impact on the community. One of the reasons why we moved here was because of all the unique events that you can only find in Phoenixville (Blob Fest, Firebird Festival). My family has enjoyed it for the past 3 years and didn't feel like it was compromised or that it was dying out. Last years location was fabulous! What about a smaller bird? Last years was a bit ostentatious. So many people come for this event. It seems like it's the best attended festival. It's great business for all the restaurants and shops. So, PLEASE, can we RECONSIDER this announcement!
William Keyser September 03, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Sorry to see it go but the memory lives on as it morphs into the Christmas Parade.
J Monson September 03, 2013 at 07:51 AM
Because I'm afraid the link I posted above is buried in the wall of text, I'm reposting: https://www.facebook.com/dontcancelthephoenixvillefirebird
Adam Williams September 03, 2013 at 08:08 AM
Really? Where is the determination and creative thinking? Just cancel the best event this area has to offer? It seems like people have given up and are suffering from grand illusions about a Christmas parade. Who wants to stand in the cold to watch a parade??? Patch - What does the chamber of commerce have to say?
Melissa September 03, 2013 at 08:18 AM
Wouldn't this year's festival have been the 10th Anniversary? This is a fabulous opportunity that is now no longer available to the community. Surely there has to be somewhere this festival can be held! I realize what with a fire that large and crowds estimated in the tens of thousands there are safety challenges. But a parade? Really?? Not the same. I seriously doubt that 20,000 people will show up for the Christmas parade. Think of the lost revenue. Think of the community pride and fellowsip that surrounds the Firebird Festival and the events leading up to it - the clay bird workshops, the wand making. There isn't a single other festival in Phoenixville that draws the town together like this one. I, for one, am sorely disappointed.
Muffins September 03, 2013 at 08:57 AM
Last year's Phoenix was the most beautiful. The burning was held at the original site in the lot behind Molly's. What does the new Hall have to do with that? This is a tribute to Phoenixville 'rising from the ashes.' I have seen a lot of positive growth in the 22 yrs. I have lived here. Hmmm, let me see. Christmas parade or the Firebird Festival. No contest!
Adam Williams September 03, 2013 at 08:58 AM
DeMutis is to blame? How? Why?
A. Hov September 03, 2013 at 09:32 AM
We have enjoyed the festival since the first year! Many people within and outside of the community will be extremely disappointed. How could they cancel one of the few very successful events in town? I am not looking forward to telling my children about this. We have to do something!!!!! I am joining the facebook page immediately.
Richard September 03, 2013 at 11:10 AM
Not sure what all the hype is about. Is it really that big of a deal? A burnt wooden bird.
harryfinster September 03, 2013 at 11:24 AM
go to burning man festival in the nevada dessert,there you could see the real thing rather than a cheap imitation in phoenixville
Mark Troyan September 03, 2013 at 12:04 PM
It would definitely be a shame to cancel an event due to its success. I remember driving by when it was a few folks surrounding a smaller phoenix and wondering what was happening. Now its a huge event that I am sure folks travel here for since its so neat and family friendly.
Voice of Reason September 03, 2013 at 02:19 PM
It's a shame there's no open land for anything in this town, such as building of new schools or even to hold this festival. It's unfortunate that any open space there is, is used to build more townhomes.
Richard September 03, 2013 at 02:31 PM
That last comment makes little sense. Conventional wisdom speaks to more townhouses thus more residents thus more tax revenue for the Borough, school district, etc. That's why Phoenixville will remain a glorified one horse town.
kali herbs September 03, 2013 at 03:09 PM
I hope all who have commented here or the facebook page will plan to show up at the next borough meeting and show my the number of attendees how important this event is to Phoenixville. Would a non-burning firebird be the same? Is there places that have not yet been thought of that can hold it? How many folks truly are willing to get behind those who have done this for years now and help them continue it? The first sign of support will be September 10 borough hall 7 PM
Laura Vernola September 03, 2013 at 04:56 PM
This event brings over 10k people to our small town. You need to try harder to find a solution because this is not acceptable. It is a celebration you will return to every year. Get it together Pville!
harryfinster September 03, 2013 at 05:06 PM
phoenixville,the town that can't
Ruth Miller September 03, 2013 at 05:25 PM
This is something my entire family looks forward to each year. We have attended since the first year.....we have all been anticipating watching the bird start to go up. A parade if nice but is over in 20 minutes. Waiting for the burning and all that goes on around it is exciting. What event has ever been as popular and well attended as this? Please work this out and find a way and place to continue for many, many years. As far as Friendship Field not being large or safe enough.....it was held next to a lumber yard!!! Bird burned, people cheered....no out of control fire. I don't recall ever reading or hearing of any accidents or ember burns from the thousands who attend. Please keep the Fire Bird Burning!!
Steve Powers September 03, 2013 at 10:07 PM
What was or did go wrong with last years location? Nothing. The land is still available. The viewing of it was not as good as the prior 8 years. I think the local political leaders and the fire department view this as a 'hassle' for them to deal with. You bring that many people into town to support and grow the businesses and you cannot find a solution. The parade is good, but would be difficult to get to the level of the West Chester parade. The next closest one day event that draws this many people is the blues festival.
George Hughes September 04, 2013 at 04:59 AM
I have a great idea . Why not have it rightin the middle of Bridge and Main sts so we can screw traffic up even more than it has In past years . Or better yet lets put it in the front yard of one of these yuppie bastards who arecomplaining about not having it that way they can deal with the parking problems and pay for all the associated cost like police overtime . GOOD RIDDANCE !
Denise September 04, 2013 at 06:30 AM
I came to the Firebird Festival because it was different. A Christmas Parade is just competing with the MANY other parades other towns are doing. I don't plan to be visiting this one this year.
Paul O'Leary September 04, 2013 at 07:37 AM
I've been to every Firebird Festival, from it's VERY small beginning to it's last grand performance. It was one of the very first things that started bringing Phoenixville notoriety of a positive nature. I will support any efforts made to save this event. I'm sorry but the Christmas parade idea just won't work for this.
Laura Schwartz September 04, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Morris dancers! Woooooheeeee! Haven't seen them since I lived in England.
Barbara Zankman September 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Bridge St merchants could sponsor shuttles to Friendship Field & back. This event's become a destination for out-of-town guests that spend money on Bridge. Lots of people that want to park, eat, drink, watch the burning ...
Ruth Miller September 05, 2013 at 10:28 PM
@George Hughes...I am not a yuppie and live in MC....I wonder if you are one of the thousands of cars crossing the river and clogging our roads; making it difficult and dangerous to try to get out of my driveway or get through the blinking light. I won't park on your streets if you keep off of my road....I love the Firebird and First Fridays.......to make you happy I'll walk over......
Frances Stein September 06, 2013 at 07:13 AM
George Hughes and Harry Finster should start dating. They seem to think alike. Bah humbug types.

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