Resiliency in Action
The Story of Phoenixville and the 2014 Firebird Festival
by Elizabeth Venart
The town of Phoenixville has been hosting an annual Firebird Festival for ten years. The ceremonial lighting of a magnificent 30-foot sculpture of a wooden phoenix is the pinnacle of the festivities, which also include music, crafts, and a parade through town. Amidst dancing and drumming and in front of crowds of thousands, the enormous bird is set ablaze and burned down to ashes.
An Ancient Myth that Speaks to Phoenixvilleâ€™s History
The ceremony dramatizes the mythical Phoenix Rising
, a sacred firebird that lives for 500-1,000 years until it builds itself a nest where it meets a fiery end. From the ashes rises a new, young, or re-born, bird that lives as long as its original self [learn more
]. During the Phoenixville ceremony, small ceramic â€œpeace birds,â€ which have been created by community members of all ages, are placed at the base of the sculpture and fired in the kiln of its flames. Like the mythical phoenix, these little birds carry the promise of new life. Twelve months later, from their ashes, the phoenix stands stories high and is burned again.
Phoenixville organizers created the ceremonial burning of the as a way to honor their townâ€™s resurgence.
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Photo credit: Rob Staeger