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Chicago Fire Festival To Light Up The Chicago River Next Year

Artist's rendering of the Great Chicago Fire Festival, planned for October 2014 along the Chicago River.

Artist’s rendering of the Great Chicago Fire Festival, planned for October 2014 along the Chicago River.

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CHICAGO (CBS) – City officials are planning a new festival along the Chicago River, to commemorate the city’s rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

“It’s going to be really, really cool,” Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Michelle Boone said.

WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports the “Great Chicago Fire Festival” will be held in October 2014, and feature acrobatic performances, live music, and a river parade of art, dance, and fire.

“Artworks on a barge that are burning … maybe some kind of fiberglass lanterns that represent fire,” she said.

If all goes well, it could become an annual festival.

It might seem strange to celebrate something that destroyed the city, but Boone said it’s about celebrating the city’s rise from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire, which burned for three days in October 1871.

“It provided an opportunity for renewal, rebirth, and really what the city is today,” she said. “The city really rose from the ashes.”

While arguably the most significant event in the city’s history, Boone said the Great Chicago Fire “has been kind of relegated to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow” – in reference to the legend the fire was started when a cow kicked over a lantern.

Most of the details of the festival have yet to be worked out, but the city is partnering with the Redmoon theater group, which will pay most of the costs. The city will provide a $100,000 grant to Redmoon for planning the festival.