An iconic centerpiece for a popular festival managed to "rise from the ashes" after it was burned to the ground during an early morning arson.
Organizers spent three months building a 30-foot Phoenix statue for the 11th annual Phoenixville Firebird Festival which features live music, crafts and food. During the event the Phoenix statue is burned during a ceremony, symbolizing the economic rebirth of the Phoenixville Borough after going through years of decline.
According to festival organizers however, someone burned the structure down early Saturday morning, several hours before the event was scheduled to begin. Firefighters arrived at the scene of the blaze in Friendship Field on Fillmore Street around 3:30 a.m. While no one was hurt, the statue was destroyed.
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"I thought I woke up to a nightmare," said Ralph Cockerham.
Despite initial concerns the festival would be canceled, the Phoenixville community came together after news of the burning spread on social media. Volunteers eventually donated enough wood, pallets, nails and hammers for organizers to build a replacement statue.
"What we're seeing right now, it just made it so much better," said Mike Kuznak. "I've never seen the community come together like this before."
The festival ran as scheduled with the lighting ceremony taking place at 8 p.m.
"The acts of hatred, whatever it may be, and then you see the acts of kindness here from all the citizens in Phoenixville," said Cockerham. "It's very emotional from many different angles and I'm really proud to be part of this community."
As for the vandals, police continue to investigate. If you have any information on the incident, please contact the Phoenixville Police Department at 610-933-8801.