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City Pulls Funding From Great Chicago Fire Festival

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 6, 2015 4:31PM

Photo by Rick Lobes / Chicagoist
If Redmoon Theater wants to make another go of celebrating the rebirth of Chicago after the Great Fire, it will have to do it without financial support from the city. According to the Chicago Tribune, Special Events Commissioner Michelle Boone said the city, which has kicked Redmoon some $350,000 in the past three years, won’t continue funding the fledgling festival.

This year’s festival was a bigger success than the first, which would have more aptly been named the Great Chicago Fire Fizzle when almost none of the flotillas heading down the Chicago River caught fire. Organizers then moved the event to Northerly Island. This year’s spectacle burned brightly enough that some boaters on Burnham Harbor reported damage to their crafts after embers and ashes blew their way over. “It was like a meteorite shower,” Chris Edmonds, vice admiral of the Burnham Park Yacht Club, told the Sun-Times. “Red sparks were coming down like a snowstorm,”

Boone commended Redmoon for working out the kinks from the first year’s fest, saying:

"I commend [Redmoon] for not being discouraged by last year's disappointment, and coming back strong, and realizing the vision for the fire festival.”

Redmoon Spokesperson Debbie Saul told the Tribune the company hasn’t decided whether or not to proceed next year. "Redmoon does not make firm decisions on future productions until we conduct a comprehensive assessment and consult with our board,” said Saul.

The total cost of this year’s fest was $1.2 million. Of that, the city kicked in $100,000, and the Chicago Park District another $75,000. The rest came from private donations to Redmoon.