Chicago Fire Fest fizzles after technical problems

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Thousands who braved the cold to attend the inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival left feeling burned by the experience.

Model Victorian homes that were floating in the Chicago River were supposed to go up in flames Saturday night, but crews couldn't really get them to catch fire.

Had the stunt gone as planned, a symbol of Chicago would have been revealed in the ashes of each house.

It was meant to celebrate the rebuilding of the city after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Organizers blamed recent rain, and moved on to the fireworks finale.

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23 comments

    • Mark G

      oh please, the city has done much worst with money. We at least can see there was an effort made. Things go wrong sometimes, things that are out of your control, give them a break. This was a project that was years in the making! I think that the people involve are beating themselves up about it too. They wanted to give all of us something. I for one applaud their efforts. I hope they try again either tomorrow or next year and I hope it becomes a new annual event/tradition for our beautiful city.

    • Jim

      Not really. Anything that gets people downtown is a good thing. I can already envision next year’s marketing angle. They can say that formed a focus group of arsonists in Cook County jail to act as consultants to make sure the barges burn.

  • bob

    Spent 2 hours from suburbs to travel by Metra and CTA to visit this festival with the whole family. Stood on bridge for another 2 hours keeping a good view of the floating house on river. OMG, what a waste of time, all this traveling for this: 1 excessively long commercial introduction of fire-lighters including our criminal governor and other no-body losers, 1 “gong” on a kayak, 1 boat of bratty rich bratty kids who hummed an illuminati chant, 1 smoke polluting steam boat kayak, and the grand finale of the 1 house fire “that dreamed it could”. Add that to the 3 attempts of pick pocketing of my iPhone and the sleeping obese Chicago Police sergeant inside his parked squad car on the Michigan Avenue bridge. The best entertainment from this festival that our family received was posting this comment. I feel sorry for the Chicago taxpayers who literally got to see their taxes burn in front of their eyes, and even that couldn’t have been pulled off right. The at-large arsonist in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood could have put on a more spectacular show AND for free!

    • Jocelyn

      FYI, Bob… The kids on the boat are not bratty or rich. Just talented singers remaining professional as a part of this grand event despite the unfortunate weather. Let’s not blame the kids.

      • Sarah

        There is something pathetic about someone from the suburbs who makes a point about mentioning his iphone then turning round and declaringa children’s choir bratty and rich. The show was dire but the kids did their bit well.

  • ashearm

    I came from Philly to visit the city. While I was disappointed with the houses not going up, that was about the only thing. I still had a good time with the vendors, music, food trucks, etc. They can’t control the wheather. If it was 60 degrees and the houses didn’t burn, I don’t think people would have been as upset. Anyway, I’ve had a great time in the city as a whole. Plus, the commentary and heckling from the people around me in the crowd was hilarious.

  • John

    While I was disappointed I thought the idea of a big event downtown the first weekend of October was great. Seeing thousands of people along the river front (I stood under the trump tower) got me thinking of all the events that could be held on the river and makes me look forward to the completion of the river walk. The lights of the city last night were spectacular. As for the Chicago Fire event – don’t over think it next year. I think a couple of rounds of Old Lady Leary and some floating bonfires would be more than enough to satisfy the crowds, heck they cheered every time the little chariots sent out a big ball of fire – it didn’t take much!

  • Gary

    Kudos to the Redmoon for putting forward such a great thought. It was a shame the weather didn’t cooprerate. The fireworks were very nice, and it did bring the city together for a celebration and a focus on something other than violence. Like the Phoenix and Chicago of 1871, let’s hope the festival rises from the ashes to be an outstanding event in the future.

  • Noah

    Im glad I waited, the fireworks at the end where good. I hope they do the fireworks at least next year. I liked the perspective of seeing the fireworks by the river, while cradled between the buildings.

  • Meddie Rodriguez

    I think the fact that it had rained yesterday might have had an impact on getting those structures ablaze. The structures were soaked and wet. I thought the fest was a decent effort considering it was the first time it was held and it was cold and wet. I thought it was a strange fest but its purpose was to show how Chicago rebound from the tragedy and rose from the ashes. The fireworks and the 30+ kayakers in the waters following the fireworks were pretty cool. My friend and I thought depicting scenes on the Chicago Fire on the screens on the kayaks would have been better. Maybe a movie screen simulating the Chicago Fire could had been used. The lag time in total silence killed the fest. Give us music or something during the lag time. A narrative about the Chicago Fire during the parade of kayaks would have been nice and not at end of the fireworks. Just a few suggestions for next time. Hopefully, it won’t be cold and wet….

  • Maria Rodriquez

    I think the fact that it had rained yesterday might have had an impact on getting those structures ablaze. The structures were soaked and wet. I thought the fest was a decent effort considering it was the first time it was held and it was cold and wet. I thought it was a strange fest but its purpose was to show how Chicago rebound from the tragedy and rose from the ashes. The fireworks and the 30+ kayakers in the waters following the fireworks were pretty cool. My friend and I thought depicting scenes on the Chicago Fire on the screens on the kayaks would have been better. Maybe a movie screen simulating the Chicago Fire could had been used. The lag time in total silence killed the fest. Give us music or something during the lag time. A narrative about the Chicago Fire during the parade of kayaks would have been nice and not at end of the fireworks. Just a few suggestions for next time. Hopefully, it won’t be cold and wet….

  • Dane Wayne

    For a city that is Billions of dollars in debt, it seems like a waste of money. The cost seems high, as well. $2 million dollars??

    Supposedly, most of it was paid by private donations, but a city that’s broke shouldn’t be pissing away money like this.

    Attended by 30,000? I’m skeptical.

    Bread & Circus for the lemmings.

    -Chicago Taxpayer