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WaterFire is an art installation, braziers in the Providence River, a hundred of them that go all the way down the Providence River. Wonderful music. As you look down the river, it looks like the river is on fire. It’s a wonderful celebration of the city, of the urban space of the downtown. National Geographic has identified it as one of the “must see” things in America, and it’s going to be a great night to showcase our beautiful city.

Officially, the first installation was presented in 1994. It was called First Fire, and it happened on New Year’s Eve in conjunction with the Bright Night celebration. After that there was a conference sculpture that came in 1996, and they had asked Barnaby Evans to do the installation again. He expanded it a little bit. They called it Second Fire. And after that, people started calling and saying, “When’s the next one?” We do probably anywhere from 14 to 17 lightings per season, and it’s been carrying on steadily since 1996.

People are dancing to Salsa music or maybe tango another week, and then sometimes it’s Cape Verdean music. But it really is the music that celebrates our city and highlights the kind of cultures that are here.

We will have a special performance by Spogga, the fire dancer. We also have all of our wood boats out. We’ll have Michael Grando, the mime artist, handing out carnations tagged with beautiful little quotes. A lot of things going on.

We actually collect donations for WaterFire. WaterFire is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. So we depend on the generosity of donations. So we actually collect donations, and in turn, we give the patrons a blue glow necklace which we call a ribbon of light. And what it does is it builds a sense of community among the patrons because when they see that ribbon of light on someone else, they know that that person has donated as well, and together as a community we’re keeping the fires burning.

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