Remembering The Fire: The Chicago Fire Festival

Craft & Design
Remembering The Fire: The Chicago Fire Festival


The inaugural Chicago Fire Festival treated 30,000 people to a multi sensory experience of light, sound and fire. Produced by Redmoon Theater the festival began with the lowering of flaming cauldrons above the Chicago River.


Mayor Rahm Emmanuel lit the first cauldron from the Michigan Avenue Bridge to inaugurate the event. Young makers who contributed to the event then lighted successive cauldrons. Banners around the event showed Chicagoans who had overcome difficulties and symbolically cast them into the fire.

Lane Tech High School student Peter Ramza who lit one of the cauldrons became involved in the festival through After School Matters. ASM is a non profit arts organization in Chicago that gives young people an opportunity to explore their creative potential. Ramza helped to make some of the props used in the Chicago Fire Festival and volunteered to participate in the opening ceremony.


Luminescent kayakers escorted flaming gondolas to the replica 19th century Chicago structures which burned to reveal sculptures underneath representing rebirth and renewal. While the houses smoldered we were entertained by a flotilla of fire breathing boats and waterborne musicians. This inaugural event by Redmoon was gutsy, exemplifying the ambition and drive that rebuilt Chicago after the 1871 disaster.

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Tom Burtonwood

Tom Burtonwood is an artist, educator and entrepreneur based in Chicago, IL. Burtonwood co-founded Mimesis, LLC a product development company focused on 3D scanning and digital fabrication. He teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College.

Find Tom on Twitter: @tburtonwood and on Instagram: @tomburtonwood

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