Thousands expected on banks of Chicago River to witness inaugural pyrotechnic event

CHICAGO (July 10, 2014) – Redmoon, Chicago’s 24-year-old theater company known for “Spectacle Art” and free summertime community performances, partners with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) to present the inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival. A new and totally free urban ritual celebrating Chicago’s grit, greatness and renewal following the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as well as showcasing the rich diversity of neighborhoods that have arisen since, the Great Chicago Fire Festival incorporates a series of citywide Summer Celebrations that culminate in a unique public River Bazaar and pyrotechnic Grand Spectacle on the main branch of the Chicago River, Saturday, October 4.


“Together with the City of Chicago, we hope to create a unique event for Chicagoans that captures the world’s imagination,” said Jim Lasko, Redmoon Executive Artistic Director. “Chicago is distinguished by the determination to innovate, to reinvent, to rise from the ashes. From the earliest prairie fires off Wolf Point to the City’s rebirth following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago’s history is marked by episodes of destruction and renewal.”

“This summer 15 neighborhoods will experience free events and activities inspired by the Great Chicago Fire Festival, a festival unlike anything ever presented on the Chicago River, one of the city’s greatest natural assets,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The festival celebrates the people of Chicago, their collective spirit, strength, beauty and depth and will showcase our city to the world. I’m proud we can work with the talented artists of Redmoon to make it possible.”

Summer Celebrations
Throughout the summer and leading up to October, Redmoon travels to 15 city neighborhoods to present free, public events and art activities – the majority held in Chicago parks – as part of the Great Chicago Fire Festival initiative.

The 15 official Fire Festival Neighborhoods are Albany Park, Austin, Avondale, Bronzeville, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, North Lawndale, Old Town, Pilsen, Roseland, South Chicago, South Shore, Uptown and Woodlawn. Redmoon partners with a total 38 civic and cultural organizations in these areas to make the Summer Celebrations possible.

In each of the 15 Fire Festival Neighborhoods, Redmoon hosts Summer Celebrations to engage the residents and empower them through food, music, art and collaborative creation. In partnership with renowned photographer Sandro Miller, Redmoon has created its newest vehicle for civic celebration: a large trailer transformed into The Mobile Photo Factory, an interactive photo studio where everyday people can have beautiful portraits taken with a caption they write, showcasing their pride.

Other Summer Celebration activities include Neighborhood Cookouts, where Redmoon brings into each neighborhood its newest functional party device, the 15-foot-tall and 15-foot-diameter Cyclone Grill, a spinning, bicycle-powered carousel with a total of nine Weber Grills in three elevated grilling stations plus a DJ station. Over fresh and healthy creations prepared by local professional chefs under the culinary direction of Chef Julius Russell of A Tale of Two Chefs, Redmoon builds new relationships with community members.

In Open Art Builds, community members are invited to decorate pieces for the Fire Sculptures, which will serve as centerpieces of the October 4 Grand Spectacle.

River Bazaar and Grand Spectacle, Saturday, October 4
The Summer Celebrations culminate in the fall with a community River Bazaar and the Grand Spectacle on the main branch of the Chicago River, between the State Street and Columbus Drive bridges.

Beginning mid-afternoon, along Chicago’s newly developed riverfront, the River Bazaar will feature 15 designated areas, each representing an official Fire Festival Neighborhood. Within each area, Redmoon’s neighborhood partners will sell crafts, goods and food. Photos of the community members, snapped throughout the summer with The Mobile Photo Factory, will adorn each neighborhood area.

At sundown, tens of thousands are expected to gather on bridges and riverbanks as the Grand Spectacle begins. Central to the Spectacle, Redmoon premieres the Fire Sculptures on three moored, floating platforms in the middle of the Chicago River. The Sculptures are symbolic objects designed in two movements: an exterior house-like structure – an artistic representation of pre-Fire Chicago architecture – that burns away magnificently, and an interior that rises out of the flames to reveal a symbolic core, celebrating the city’s rise after the historic 1871 fire and its prosperity since. Fire dancers on the riverbanks, a Victorian-era-inspired steampunk boat and the Chicago Children’s Choir join in the festive performance as the Fire Sculptures are transformed, all followed by a dazzling grand finale fireworks display set to music, designed by Las Vegas-based Pyrotechnico.

The neighborhood Summer Celebrations and October 4 River Bazaar and Grand Spectacle are all completely free. No tickets are required.

The Great Chicago Fire Festival is in partnership with The City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and The Chicago Park District, and presented by BMO Harris Bank and The Pritzker Foundation, with partnering sponsorship support from The Boeing Company, Allstate Insurance Corporation and Digitas, LBI. Support also comes from The Chicago Community Trust, The Cookie Jar Foundation, David and Suzu Neithercut, The Polk Bros. Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, Weber Grill and a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US.

About the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

About Chicago Park District
The Chicago Park District is the steward of more than 8,100 acres of open space, totaling 580 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs. For more information, visit

About Redmoon
Redmoon’s mission is to transform the experience of Chicago through free large-scale theatrical events that promote community, creativity and an empowered democracy. Redmoon burst into Chicago’s cultural consciousness with its award-winning production of Moby Dick in 1995. While the indoor productions continued to receive critical acclaim and popular support, Jim Lasko chose to focus the theater’s energy outdoors, where Redmoon sought to deploy spectacle to bridge difference and transform the ways that people see and understand public spaces. Over the past 23 years, Redmoon has become a highly valued Chicago institution with its high-profile collaborations, vibrant outdoor performances and authentic community partnerships. In 2009, Lasko joined forces with long-time collaborator Frank Maugeri to co-lead Redmoon as it garnered international attention for its unique productions, site-specific performances and participatory events. Since 1991, Redmoon has performed for more than 250,000 people in 30 different neighborhoods in 116 public spaces.

For more information on the Great Chicago Fire Festival visit and for more information on Redmoon and its programs, visit