Earlier than the pandemic, Firefly Music Pageant followers seemed ahead to the longstanding custom of partying in The Woodlands of Dover in June. (The pageant moved to September final 12 months.)
But a particular group of music lovers, together with Joanna Schnurman, skilled that one distinctive 12 months within the pageant’s historical past when it was held in July.
That date was July 20, 2012, the 12 months Firefly was born. Wednesday marks the pageant’s birthday, because the glowing bundle of pleasure turns 10.
Taken as a gaggle, these Firefly followers have skilled all 10 years of the pageant’s historical past. They usually have loads of recollections to share about Delaware’s favourite music fest, from witnessing Paul McCartney ship a juggernaut set in Dover to the beginning of the legend of Sober Bear.
Firefly returns for its milestone anniversary Sept. 22 to 25 at Woodlands of Dover Worldwide Speedway. Headliners are Halsey, My Chemical Romance, Inexperienced Day and Dua Lipa.
Seeing Paul McCartney with Mother
Schnurman, 33, of Lexington, Kentucky, was there to see Firefly take its first child steps.
The inaugural occasion was solely three days (Friday by means of Sunday) and attracted round 30,000 folks, making it roughly thrice smaller than the pageant was at its top of 90,000-plus followers in 2015.
Headlining that first 12 months had been the Killers, The Black Keys and Jack White.
Schnurman, who works as a voice trainer and medical program coordinator, remembers 12 months one prefer it was yesterday.
“It was magical. I had by no means been to a music pageant earlier than, so the entire expertise was new to me,” she recalled. “Jack White enjoying within the rain was a spotlight. The gang sang the hook to ‘Seven Nation Military’ for the remainder of the weekend.”
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Schnurma attended each Firefly besides in 2019. Her No. 1 spotlight was the 12 months a Beatles legend headlined.
“My absolute, palms down favourite second was watching Paul McCartney’s unbelievable set in 2015 with my mother. She raised me on his music and all the time advised me tales about how she had an enormous crush on him rising up,” Schnurman mentioned. “She later handed away, so I take into consideration that second loads. It’s certainly one of my favourite recollections.”
Foo Fighters and ‘Grotto’s Pizza’
Bob Warburton, of Wilmington, has attended each Firefly to this point. He would have attended in 2020, however Firefly — and all giant music festivals — was cancelled because of the pandemic.
One of many Delaware resident’s favourite Firefly moments was in 2014, when the Foo Fighters paid homage to a preferred restaurant within the state. “Dave Grohl began the present by referencing his time in Rehoboth and consuming Grotto’s Pizza,” mentioned Warburton, who works in actual property.
“For the encore, Dave and drummer Taylor Hawkins did a backstage skit on digital camera the place they pretended to argue about what number of songs they’d carry out for the encore. They then got here out on stage and mentioned they had been a gin-soaked bar cowl band, and carried out a bunch of traditional hits by different bands earlier than closing with ‘Everlong.’ It was the perfect Firefly efficiency of all time, and a bit of bittersweet with the latest passing of Taylor.”
‘Sober Bear’ saves the day
Firefly has birthed numerous legends. However not all of them are musical acts.
Certainly one of them was the huggable Sober Bear.
Joe Meier, 33, of Philadelphia, is the man who carries the Sober Bear totem, a cartoony signal of a bear’s face. To newcomers, the bear is likely to be a cute random signal. However to those that know, the Sober Bear is a beacon of sunshine just like the Bat Sign.
Meier has been to each Firefly since 2014. That 12 months was a low level for him.
“I used to be severely obese, depressed and fighting habit. The power Firefly introduced into my life impressed me to get wholesome and clear in order that I might do it once more.”
Meier mentioned he’s now sober and has misplaced 160 kilos through the years.
His favourite reminiscence is from 2019, the third 12 months carrying his Sober Bear totem, and the 12 months somebody at Firefly lifted his cellphone from his pocket on Day One, he mentioned.
“It put me in such a foul psychological area that I thought of leaving. However for the whole remainder of the weekend I had folks coming as much as me and my totem and telling me how glad they had been to see it there,” the software program engineer defined. “Rather a lot had heard about my cellphone being stolen and provided condolences. These folks actually saved my complete weekend.”
Meier is standard on the Firefly Music Pageant Fan Web page group on Fb and he’s made it identified folks can attain out to him in the event that they’re fighting habit and wish a pal; in the event that they’re dehydrated and wish water; are afraid of being on the fest for his or her first time, or produce other considerations.
He lets of us know he’ll present as much as their rescue with the Sober Bear. Normally 5 folks a day attain out to him in The Woodlands, he mentioned.
Some Firefly followers take into account him the hero they want, however don’t deserve.
“I feel the commonest factor that occurs is sober of us discover me and inform me they really feel safer in staying sober,” he mentioned. “I get loads of youthful people who had a father or mother inform them to seek out me in the event that they wanted assist or one thing of that nature. Largely, I simply get folks saying thanks for being obtainable and telling me they like my signal.”
Silent disco birthday reward
Ariel Mears, 24, of Livingston Manor, New York, has been jamming in The Woodlands from 2016 to 2021, excluding 2017.
Her first Firefly, in 2016, was proper after she graduated highschool. She determined to have a good time with a pal “the place we completely lived within the second each second we had been there,” she mentioned.
Mears’ high second from Firefly got here the 12 months earlier than the pandemic.
“I introduced my finest pal with me for her first pageant as a birthday celebration and we danced the evening away within the silent disco to Emo Night time,” mentioned the mental-health companies employee. “The best way we had been so carefree and alive was cathartic, and was the most effective journeys we determined to take collectively.”
She’ll ‘always remember’ the Killers
Katie Vitez, 24, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, lastly grew her Firefly wings final 12 months. She had butterflies going to the pageant as a result of she had by no means been to a tenting music fest.
“I ended up having the time of my life. I met so many fascinating folks and shared loads of superb recollections with digital strangers,” the registered nurse remembered.
On the similar time, the parents at Firefly didn’t really feel alien to her.
“Everyone seems to be a stranger, but it’s really easy to method anybody and strike up a dialog or make a pal. Everybody’s there to hang around and hearken to good music collectively. I keep in mind pondering it felt like a playground constructed for adults.”
Vitez’s spotlight final 12 months was dancing and singing to “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers.
“That track has been performed at each occasion, social gathering, wedding ceremony, and so on., for the final 15 years. I’ll always remember the sensation of singing it with [thousands of] different folks and simply feeling like we had been all linked in that second.”
‘Blown away’ by Twenty One Pilots
Christine Smith, 58, of Middletown, attended the primary Firefly and been to almost every one aside from one or two, she mentioned.
She described the primary as the perfect one as a result of “the lineup was superb, the gang was manageable, the meals was fantastic and the vibe was laid again.”
That was again when the pageant’s demographic attracted a special crowd with extra middle-aged of us and fewer highschool college students, the alternative of right now. It started in its place rock/indie pageant, with fewer rappers, EDM or pop acts on the invoice.Smith can’t recover from her first time seeing Twenty One Pilots, which made its Firefly debut in 2013. The band wasn’t touring arenas again then, and its title was close to the underside on the flyer of the pageant’s lineup.“I used to be blown away the primary time I noticed Twenty One Pilots. I hadn’t heard of them till Firefly and I simply occurred upon the stage as a result of I used to be ready for the following band to return on. They had been implausible, a lot power. I used to be an instantaneous fan,” mentioned Smith, who’s a registered nurse.
With the Tenth-anniversary pageant proper across the nook, Smith is stoked to see one band she’s had on her Firefly bucket record for a very long time.
“This 12 months, I’m actually wanting ahead to Inexperienced Day. I’ve been begging for them for the reason that first 12 months, so I’m actually excited they acquired them.”
For the complete every day schedule of the Firefly lineup, and for more information, go to fireflyfestival.com.
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This text initially appeared on Delaware Information Journal: Firefly followers recall Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters & Twenty One Pilots