Around Town: The Great Chicago Fire Festival

According to Wikipedia, The Great Chicago Fire burned for three days, killing up to 300 people and destroying roughly 3.3 square miles of the city leaving more than 100,000 residents homeless. Though the fire was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century, and destroyed much of the city's central business district, Chicago was rebuilt and continued to grow as one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

This Saturday, October 4, around 8 p.m., the city will give homage to this historic event when 14 cauldrons of fire will be lowered into the Chicago River between State Street and Columbus Drive. Three floating platforms, each topped with models of pre-1871 buildings, will be set aflame to reveal symbolic structures rising 40 feet from the water, illuminated by fireworks, while thousands of spectators watch.

According to Chicago Magazine (, The Great Chicago Fire Festival began as a question five years ago: Why doesn’t Chicago commemorate its most dramatic and significant event? “The Great Chicago Fire basically birthed our great cultural export: architecture,” says Jim Lasko, 48, executive artistic director of Redmoon, the wildly original Pilsen-based not-for-profit theater company. “Our event celebrates the grit, greatness and renewal of Chicago.”

The city has thrown a tremendous amount of weight behind this first ever spectacle, hoping that it will herald in a new tradition for the city to be celebrated for years to come. I will be joining the ranks as a volunteer in the VIP event watching tent tomorrow evening. Follow @billieholigay on Twitter and Instagram for live updates!

- Michael Corrigan, Account Supervisor