Crew is building the 2012 firebird in Phoenixville for December festival

Image courtesy of Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg Here is a rendition of what the 2012 firebird is expected to look like. Thousands are expected to watch the wooden bird burn during the Phoenixville Firebird Festival on Dec. 8.

PHOENIXVILLE — Before the firebird goes up in flames, the main attraction of the festival must be built and other arrangements must be made.

The ninth annual Phoenixville Firebird Festival will be celebrated on Dec. 8.

Due to the construction of the new borough hall, the location has been moved to the area across the street from the Foundry building in the parking area behind Molly Maguire’s.

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A crew started building the firebird on Sept. 15 at the site along Main Street.

Before the building began, Brett Williams designed the bird and a model was created.

Event organizer Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg said the building is expected to be completed in October.

“The bird is coming along very well,” Stubbe Teglbjaerg said. “Usually we start building in mid-October.”

He said it’s a shame when the bird gets finished in November, later in the season, and then it gets burned in December. This schedule will allow for it to be seen longer before the festival.

Starting early has also helped with working through weather conditions.

“We’re used to working on it in November when it’s cold or rainy,” Stubbe Teglbjaerg said. “It’s a nice relief (working on it now). We’ve been blessed with wonderful weather.”

A core group of people works on the construction of the firebird during weekends. Community members have also spent time helping out with the project.

The core group includes Stubbe Teglbjaerg, Charles Segal, Brett Williams, Brett’s father, Bob, and a professional builder, Jeremy Bowers.

With some firebirds in the past, people have named the birds. One was named Katrina because the wings were blown off from the wind. No names have been chosen for this year’s bird yet, Stubbe Teglbjaerg said.

Stubbe Teglbjaerg said the location behind Superior Beverage is where the firebird festival was held originally.

“It’s a challenge there,” he said. “We had it for so many years at the other spot. Many things have to be done to make it secure for people. There were 200 people that came in the beginning and now there are 12,000.”

The organizers must build the firebird 300 feet away from buildings.

Stubbe Teglbjaerg said Williams did a good job coming up with the design.

Williams is a senior at Tyler School of Art, an art school at Temple University.

“It’s a great opportunity to be part of this,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve done anything to this scale.”

The bird will measure at 27 to 29 feet high, according to the team.

A scaffold has been built so the team can safely work on the firebird.

Williams said he has been friends with Charles Segal, one of the people involved with the festival since the beginning, who presented the opportunity to design the bird.

He started with a few sketches of the firebird and created a model out of tongue depressors, he said.

Williams said he is enjoying the teamwork of the group building the bird and seeing that his creation will become something festivalgoers will enjoy.

“There isn’t just one leader,” he said. “We really do work as a team.”

Williams said it’s great to have his idea for the firebird being discussed by others.

He said he’s glad the firebird is bringing the core group together and will unite the residents of Phoenixville. This will be his first Phoenixville Firebird Festival.

One might think that a designer would be sad while watching the firebird burn. Williams doesn’t feel that way.

“I’m really excited to see it burn,” he said. “That’s the purpose of what it’s for. I like the idea of creating the symbolic version of us coming together next year.”

Segal has been the designer of the bird three times. He said he got attached to last year’s bird.

“It’s truly exciting to see it go up in the immense bonfire,” Segal said. “That’s the fun of the burn. This one I missed. I’d go back and visit the site.”

He said the fun in building the firebird is that they don’t have to build it to last for years and years.

Segal said, “There are two things about it burning: everyone knows it’s going to burn. They pay attention and know after Dec. 8 it’s not going to exist anymore. It’s like a performance that it has an end date and it’s gone. Because it’s burned we don’t have to get too wrapped up in obsessive details. It makes building it more fun.”

Booths will be added to this year’s festival to collect suggested donations for the event, Segal said.

Organizers won’t turn anyone away from the festival, he said.

As the festival has grown, expenses have grown, Segal said.

For more information about the festival, visit www.firebirdfestival.com.