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Firebird Fest returns to Phoenixville for its 11th burn

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STORY WRITTEN BY VIRGINIA LINDAK
For Digital First Media

PHOENIXVILLE >> Excitement is building as Phoenixville prepares to host its 11th annual Firebird Festival on Saturday, Dec. 6. A crowd of thousands is expected to attend this year’s event, which will be held in Friendship Field on Phoenixville’s north side.
The yearly event is a celebration that welcomes the approaching winter solstice, as well as acknowledging the rebirth of the borough in recent years. Festivities begin with the street fair at 3 p.m. on Bridge Street. Dozens of vendors and artisans will be selling their crafts and wares. There will also be a colorful plethora of street performers, musicians, storytellers and belly dancers that will entertain the crowd.
At 7:30 p.m., the popular Firebird Parade will carry the torch which lights the phoenix statue from Bridge Street, across the Gay Street Bridge and up to Friendship Field. At 8:15 p.m., the gigantic 30-foot-tall wooden phoenix will be set alight and burned to the ground in an epic blaze.
There will be close to 30 different food and craft vendors set up around Friendship Field, as well as a large stage for musicians. Three shuttle buses will run continuously to transport people from the corner of Main and Bridge streets up to Friendship Field.
“I think it’s a great location. I trust it’s going to work out really well. There’s space for a lot of people and a big stage,” said event organizer Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg.
This year, Teglbjaerg designed the impressive phoenix statue, which has a new twist: its head is turned to the side. He said he felt wonderful about the volunteers who helped him build the large bird.
“The bird changes every year. The head spins, which is fun. I created the model with the head spinning to figure how I wanted it. While building it, we decided why not make it on the real bird, too. It’s 30 feet,” Teglbjaerg commented.
Teglbjaerg noted the festival, which began as an idea with a small group of artists, continues to gain in popularity each year because of the sense of community it instills within people.
“We had an arts and entertainment committee where we created the different murals in town. Lynn Miller was the one who came up with this (Firebird Fest) concept 11 years ago,” he said. “You catch something when it’s really perfect timing. Our town had gone through this depression period a long time, then all these (creative) forces started. This was a way of celebrating that, celebrating the creativity that was happening and keep supporting it.”
He continued, “It’s an excuse for the whole community to get together and build something this big. It’s something that really requires everybody to step in and that is what’s so wonderful, is that so many people have. To me, it’s an excuse for us to be creative together and really feel this community feeling.”
Although many people in the community would love to see the giant phoenix sculpture stand year-round, Teglbjaerg said there is significance in letting it go.
“It’s a vessel that creates a space for thousands of people. Then, suddenly, you have that vessel burn, and that creates a void. We get attached to things; this frame, this form, this beautiful bird, then we let go of it. This void that’s created is where something new can arise. This idea of letting it go and then this void… in a sense, it’s kind of where great art comes from.”
More information and a complete schedule is available at firebirdfestival.com.

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