From a performance standpoint, there isn’t much to see. At my first WaterFire, my girlfriend and I staked out a prime spot in Waterplace Park, a circular basin at the western edge of the Riverwalk. The air was tinged with smoke as boats carrying dark-clad torchbearers lit scores of braziers along the river. Classical music blared from the speakers as a slightly larger boat entered the basin. A buff, shirtless man performed a fire dance as the boat made a loop and then vanished back the way it had come.
“I think that’s it,” my girlfriend whispered. “That can’t be it,” I replied. “That’s just the intro.”
It turned out we were both right. The real show is what happens all around the canals. The side streets are filled with food vendors and performers; dance floors emerge along city byways, accompanied by the rhythms of tango or swing. All along the Riverwalk, people stroll arm in arm as the warmth of the fire battles the cool night air around them. And at every promenade, people sit along the benches and just stare into the flames, transfixed like children around a campfire.
It’s a quiet moment–a chance for visitors to discover and for residents to remember just how unique Providence is. It’s a city unafraid to rise from the ashes and move steadily forward, one rebirth at a time.