Chicago Events: The Great Chicago Fire Festival
This past weekend Chicago natives, and tourists alike, gathered along the Chicago River, between the Columbus Street and State Street bridges, to partake in the sights of the first annual Great Chicago Fire Festival. The sights, however, were disappointingly minimal.
While events for the festival started in the afternoon, the main event on the river was supposed to start at 8:00 PM and last a little over an hour. With a delayed start, many sight-seers grew anxious, wondering if they had missed the activities. When it finally began, the first cauldrons were lowered to the river, and the crowd began to cheer. For those that read all of the articles about the festival, their expectations were set high! Those that were walking by were intrigued by the thousands of people gathering around the riverbanks and were now curious to see what was going to happen.
Many had visions of exotic flames lighting the cedar houses built to burn along the river. They wanted to feel the heat from the city burning. They wanted to see the kayaks floating through, representing the rapid spread of the fire. They wanted to see a vision of the Great Chicago Fire! Unfortunately, the cedar was damp from earlier rain and the fire did not spread. The crowd did not see flames. They did not feel the heat.
With a huge awkward delay, many in the crowd dispersed. A parade that was supposed to be a little over an hour turned out to be almost two hours. People in the cold just waited and waited some more for something big to happen. Those that did tough it out eventually got to see a beautiful display of fireworks to end the evening.
Let’s keep in mind this was the FIRST annual Great Chicago Fire Festival and nothing is ever perfect the first time around. For something like this, with so many variables, there cannot be a dress rehearsal, or practice. This was the city’s vision and they had a desire to carry it out. Remember the very first Maginificent Mile Lights Festival? It struggled the first year with a couple of floats. Now, the Lights Festival parade is something many look forward to every November with lots of floats, big name entertainment and large crowds.
The city is committed to at least three years for the Great Chicago Fire Festival, and no one knows it better than a Chicagoan to stay positive and say: “There’s always next year!”
Did you attend the Great Chicago Fire Festival? Tell us what you thought in the comments below.
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