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Chicago FireFest needs a little more flame

The pictures below show thousands lining the streets of downtown Chicago, from Michigan Ave. along Wacker to State. But despite thousands of smiling faces and children’s eyes filled with wonder, many Chicago Fire Festival on-lookers left disappointed in the botched spectacle.

The three life-sized homes were built by the CeaseFire Chicago foundation and the city-wide participants of the #Overcome campaign to be burned in commemoration of the events of the great Chicago fire. But, unfortunately, they just didn’t burn.


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One house sits lit in the river, closest to the Chicago Tribune building as spectators waited for it to be set ablaze | Photo by: Kyle Holley

Around 9 p.m. crowds became curious about why the houses had yet to be set ablaze. Only to quickly find out that there was a malfunction with the prongs that were set to light them.

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This “I Overcome” banner hung over the heads of thousands, alongside hundreds of others as part of the CeaseFire initiative that sponsered the event | Photo by: Kyle Holley

Periodically, an event announcer would calm the masses with a thank you for coming out or a rally call. At roughly 9:20, the announcer said a fireworks show was about to take place and this elicited a roar from the crowd. The show latest about 15 minutes and lit up the skies above the Trump Tower and Chicago Tribune building.

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One Redmoon employee was spotted amongst the crowd, answering the questions and concerns of the people and event | Photo by: Kyle Holley

The atmosphere, however, was perfect for Chicagoans. Cool winds, a lit Michigan Avenue and Aretha Franklin playing smoothly from the speakers across the river. Many enjoyed food or games of catch with their families. Others sat or stood along the walls on Wacker and took pictures. There were even other performers in the crowd, dancers and people playing live music.

Chicago Firemen sit in a truck on Wacker, nearest the Riverwalk entrance and direct event goers from point to point, while really being on hand to secure the crowd’s safety | Photo by: Kyle Holley 

Though the people of Chicago enjoyed the fireworks, many still said much of their discontent was with not seeing that they came to, burning houses on the river.

All in all, the FireFest and concept brought much of the city and Illinois residents out to the river to see this event. Executive director of the Redmoon, Jim Lasko, who hosted the event, said he was excited about all of the social media presence and awareness the event was receiving leading up to the night of the show.

This in part may be responsible for the huge turnout. More importantly, however, Redmoon should be focused on putting together a fool proof plan for next year’s show to avoid the social back-lash this year’s received.

Crowds line the lower level Chicago Riverwalk along Wacker Dr. to watch the spectacle float | Photo by: Kyle Holley


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