Tens of thousands of people from all over New England descend on Providence for WaterFire!
Aug 8, 2009
Having spent my entire life here in Rhode Island I can tell you that 25 years ago DowntownProvidence was a run-down, dreary place. In those days if you did happen to run into someone after dark there was a pretty fair chance that the person was up to no good and furthermore your own personal safety may have been in jeopardy. Thankfully, much of this has changed due to the hard work and vision of a coalition of government officials, business interests, concerned citizens and one very talented artist. His name is Barnaby Evans. Back in 1994, Evans came up with an extraordinary idea for a sculpture to be installed on the three rivers that criss-cross the city. He called his work "WaterFire". Perhaps more than anything else "WaterFire" has sparked the rejunvenation of Providence and its people. "WaterFire" truly is a fun and very unique experience.
The very first "WaterFire" was lit on New Years Eve in 1994. It was relatively small but the response was overwhelming. People were positively enchanted by what Barnaby Evans had created. About a year and a half later Evans presented the second "WaterFire" to coincide with an International Arts Festival going on in the city. People began to talk about making "WaterFire" an on-going installation. So just what is "WaterFire" anyway? To quote the website: "WaterFire is one hundred sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage all the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park. WaterFire has captured the imagination of over ten million visitors, bringing life to downtown, and revitalizing Rhode Island’s capital city." The "WaterFire" is lit at sunset and burns until about 1:00 A.M. Sound impressive? Believe me it is.
Each year between May and October "WaterFire" is presented about 15 times. The lightings are usually on the weekend but occasionally "WaterFire" is presented during the week when there is a large convention or meeting in town. Delegates to the 2009 U.S. Conference of Mayors in June were treated a an extra special presentation of "WaterFire" that featured thousands of luminaries hanging from the trees in the Downtown area. In addition to the sculpture itself visitors can count on a number of other activities taking place on a "WaterFire" night. Live jazz is presented at the Verizon Jazz Stage and on many evenings there is Ballroom Dancing in the streets of the city. And since Providence is noted as a great restaurant city there is plenty of fabulous food as well. What I enjoy most about "WaterFire" is that it attracts people of all ages and economic circumstances. Everyone has a great time at "WaterFire"! Average attendance is around 45,000 but on some nights that number can swell to nearly 100,000! If you are going to be anywhere near Providence, RI during the summer months I urge you plan your trip around "WaterFire". t is an experience that you will never forget! Very highly recommended!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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WaterFire Providence®, the award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence, has been praised by Rhode Island residents and international visitors alike as a powerful work of art and a moving symbol of Providence’s renaissance. WaterFire’s one hundred sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage all the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park. WaterFire has captured the imagination of over ten million visitors, bringing life to downtown, and revitalizing Rhode Island’s capital city.
Cited by the [Providence Journal] in 1997 as “the most popular work of art created in the capital city’s 371-year history” and by Friedrich St. Florian as the "crown jewel of the Providence renaissance," WaterFire continues to grow and gain in popularity. Barnaby Evans created First Fire in 1994 as a commission to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. In June 1996, Evans created Second Fire for the International Sculpture Conference where it became the gathering place for thousands of participants from all over the world. Ardent art supporters convinced Evans to create an on-going fire installation and started a grass-roots effort ...