Firebrid Burns

New location for Festival and frigid conditions don't deter fans of the festival.

Bistro on Bridge posted this photo of the wooden firebird as it started to burn on the Bistro's Facebook page.  Photo Courtesy: Bistro on Bridge/Facebook.
Bistro on Bridge posted this photo of the wooden firebird as it started to burn on the Bistro's Facebook page. Photo Courtesy: Bistro on Bridge/Facebook.
Amidst bitter cold, wet snow, ice and sleet, the Phoenixville Firebird was torched on time in Friendship Field Saturday night.

Bistro on Bridge captured the moment and posted a photo on the Bistro's Facebook page.

The ceremonial torching of the bird was the culmination of months of work and political back and forth that at one time had organizers cancelling the tenth annual Firebird Festival.  This was the first year that the bird burning was not held in a downtown location. The festival was moved to Friendship field in the borough's north end, overlooking the valley and in the center of a residential section of Phoenixville.  Downtown merchants still played a big role in the festival and there was space provided for dozens of vendors in the parking lot adjacent to the playing fields where the bird was constructed.

Volunteers started working on building the bird back in October.  Over the course the fall Festival Organizer Henrik Stubbe-Teglbjaerg says hundreds of people volunteered to help build the bird as well as plan, organize and stage the festival.

There was no rain/snow date for this year's event.  Organizer said only high winds would have prevented the bird from being torched.  Phoenixville fire officials were on hand to guard against any potential fire concerns and to make the call to stop to the torching if it had been required.  Conditions at 8:15 p.m. were cold and wet but wind was not a problem and the ceremonial torching of the bird was on.

Hundreds of handmade clay birds were wrapped in foil and placed inside a metal box inside the bird to be kiln-fired during the night.  Those birds were made at gatherings in the weeks leading up to the festival and will become unique keepsakes and gifts for festival fans.

Send us your 2013 Firebird Festival Photos and tell us about your experience.

  • Did you brave the wintry conditions?  What did you think of the new location. If you attended the festival, tell us about it in the comments below.  Send photos to Phoenixville@patch.com and put "Firebird Photos" in the subject line.  We'll share your photos with Patch readers.
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Average Citizen December 15, 2013 at 08:40 AM
The fact that they had this event in the middle of an ice/snow storm was maybe the dumbest thing I have ever witnessed the "town" do. I know for a fact that at least half, if not two 3rds of the families that planned on coming out didn't due to the weather (many people commented on facebook and I heard others say they planned on going but the weather prevented it). The local businesses, really count on these events as they don't do great Monday through Thursday (especially the retailers) and this huge loss could push some of them to the breaking point. Not to mention it endangered anyone who drove to this event when local police, fire, and PA DoT officials were telling people to stay off the roads. Why didn't they just postpone it until next week? Typical Phoenixville "leadership". Always seems to make the wrong call. I hope the people that did show up at least spent a few bucks downtown but I'm guessing most were so cold and wet, they just went home right after. Stupid is as stupid does.
Clint Weiler December 15, 2013 at 08:45 AM
Sorry you feel that way... It was the BEST Firebird Festival I've ever been to, but I was fortunate enough to walk there.
Lynette Gray December 15, 2013 at 09:28 AM
There should have been a rescheduling due to the weather. I tried to stay, but it was simply too cold and wet outside. And attendance was maybe 1/8 of what is would have been if it was not snowing and sleeting.
Average Citizen December 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Sorry Clint but most of us couldn't walk there. I'm sure it was great for people like you though. Low crowds, short lines, etc... too bad it was horrible for the local businesses.
Bob Byrne (Editor) December 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Average: Your comment has been deleted for violating Patch's terms of service. Regarding your other remarks: The Firebird Festival is not presented or staged by the borough. Obviously it can only be done with the borough government's cooperation and support but it is not the local government's event. It is staged and run by volunteers from the community.
Dave Gautreau December 15, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Thank you Bob Byrne for clarifying that
Kenny December 15, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Peace and love, peace and love. Regardless if you are from California or Downtown phoenixville, people can support all the businesses 365 days a year not just during the firebird festival.
Kristin Pesnell December 15, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Yes, thank you Bob for pointing out that the Firebird Festival and many events like it are run by volunteers. Volunteers spend many hours, especially the weeks just prior to the event preparing. Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg is a great guy and works hard to coordinate this festival every year. I have run into him several times while working on Pumpkinfest. As the coordinator of Phoenixville Pumpkinfest, I can tell you that that there are often bumps in the road and things go wrong. Lots of decisions have to be made, and there can be circumstances that others don't know about that come into play. For whatever reason, the decision was made only to postpone the Firebird Festival in the case of wind.
Kristin Pesnell December 15, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Further, no festival coordinator can guarantee that businesses will profit. We work very hard to help businesses find ways to participate and promote themselves, but at the end of the day, it's on them to draw their customers through the door. I can tell you that I personally visit many businesses multiple times, make announcements on the Patch Board & Blog, send out flyers, as well as email participating business reminders & suggestions months before the festival, yet many fail to take advantage of their opportunity to promote themselves & profit. A small handful even scoff at you (very small handful - most are happy to have a festival). Coordinating with the businesses in town requires hours of time & follow through. I have a great relationship with many of the businesses in town because they know that I genuinely want them to profit, but I can't make that happen anymore than I can control the weather.
marcthepig December 16, 2013 at 07:54 AM
Should have been rescheduled due to the weather.
Paul O'Leary December 16, 2013 at 08:30 AM
It was my understanding that they really couldn't postpone the event. Maybe because of other obligations for the vendors or well, whatever. Sometimes you just have to go with what you have, in what ever conditions prevail. I applaud all members of the Festivals volunteers in their extremely hard work in this en devour. The Firebird was amazing, great talents. Sometimes, well sometimes you just have to deal with what Mother Nature gives you. Better luck next year.
Markels Roberts December 16, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Firebird Festival is more that one night….it is the symbol of the rebirth of Phoenixville…the bird rising up anew after the fire. The weather has been a challenge this whole season. It was a magical evening…folks enjoyed coming in from the cold…having a home made cookie, sharing stories. The Christmas music was all about snow and sleigh rides…we were a picture post card. Our retail business, Diving Cat Studio Gallery, did just the same amount of business this year as last. Thank you Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg, and all the others who braved the elements and worked so hard to make this festival happen!!!
Donna Bucelli December 16, 2013 at 10:34 AM
We didn't attend this year due to the weather. We live in Kimberton and couldn't even get up our driveway. Hopefully next year will be better weather so we can come. We did go last year and it was fun.
Fafa December 16, 2013 at 01:20 PM
The Firebird Festival was awesome this year. The weather was a bit much and it would have worked out better if it wasn't as heavy a snow but it was still a tremendous showing and the town had a special buzz going on with the visibility low (due to the weather) and the businesses all lit up. It really gives you a sense of pride that we live in such a tremendous town.


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