Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rising from the Ashes

As the shortest, darkest day of the year approaches, the town of Phoenixville PA will light up the night with the 6th annual Firebird Festival on Saturday, December 12th. The highlight of the Festival is the lighting of the Firebird, a 29 foot tall wooden replica of the mythical Phoenix bird. Area artists spent several weekends constructing the bird sculpture that now sits on Bridge Street, a block away from the town’s retail center. When lit, the firebird will become a huge bonfire to illuminate the darkness of December.

The Firebird Festival was created as a way to celebrate the rebirth of Phoenixville, a town outside Philadelphia, which struggled for decades after the closing of the Phoenix Iron and Steel plant. Like the fabled Phoenix bird that rose from its own ashes, the town has been revitalized in the last 10 years with the renovation of the historic Colonial Theatre, the opening of many new restaurants and shops, and the restoration of the Foundry building and visitors center.

The festivities start in the afternoon on the 12th. An Arts Bazaar opens at 4:00 pm and features regional artisans selling all sorts of unique and hand-made items. Food and beverages will be offered at the bazaar as well. At the Firebird site in the 300 block of Bridge Street, musicians and street performers will be entertaining the crowds with music, fire-dancing, and puppetry. Spirit Wing, a Native American musical group, will be in attendance at the Festival for the sixth straight year.

Shops and businesses along the 200 block of Bridge Street also help celebrate the Firebird by offering their own entertainment and music all afternoon.

At 7:15 pm a procession, led by a percussion ensemble, will make its way from the Colonial Theatre to the Firebird site. New this year is the Children’s Procession of Light, which will follow the percussion ensemble to the site. Local children created over 100 lanterns during a program at the library this fall, and these lanterns will be carried in the parade to the Firebird.

At 8:00 pm the Lighting of the Bird commences! Spectators, usually numbering in the thousands, will watch the flames engulf the 29 foot high structure. Buried inside the burning Phoenix will be handmade clay birds. The burning bird will serve as a kiln to fire the clay figurines, which will be unearthed the next day and put on display at Artisan’s Café.

All Firebird Festival events are free and geared toward the whole family. Come experience downtown Phoenixville on a wonderful winter’s night when we chase away the darkness and embrace the light.

* * * * * * *
Shop and dine on Bridge Street before the festival:

Diving Cat Studio, 246 Bridge Street
Hipster Home, 237 Bridge Street
Wolfgang Books, 237 Bridge Street, 2nd floor

Phoenix Village Art Center, 207 Bridge Street

Iron Hill Brewery, 130 Bridge Street

Molly Maguire’s, 197 Bridge Street


  1. This is a terrific article, from the perfect title right through to the lyrical closing line. I enjoyed every picture and link as well.

    As you'd noted previously on another post, I, too, enjoy hearing about a town re-inventing itself so creatively--and successfully. It is a reminder that the big cities don't have a lock on creative talent and energy--or great things to do and see and places to eat!

    Enjoy the celebration tomorrow--and the celebration of the town's rebirth as signified by the clay birds on display the next day.

  2. What a lovely article! It's so inspiring to read about people coming together in such a positive and uplifting way. How did the day go? I'd love to read your impressions.


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