by Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
WaterFire is a recurring event that attracts crowds from across the Providence College community and the city of Providence each and every year. The lightings begin in late spring and run well into the fall season. Taking place in the Downtown area along the Providence River, WaterFire offers its visitors a picturesque view of the city.
There are a surplus of reasons that WaterFire has been able to attract so many individuals over the years. Firstly, WaterFire is typically looked at as a social event from the eyes of its participants. Lightings are admission-free and open to the public. However, it is evident that a significant degree of thought and preparation is put into each lighting. Additionally, WaterFire also connects with local businesses around the state to support its events.
Moreover, those who have attended the showings in recent years are a testament to the revitalization of Providence as a whole. This is because WaterFire allows visitors to see the artistic landscape that pervades the city. In addition to the natural views of the water, lightings are often accompanied by music and other types of performance art.
WaterFire is a nonprofit organization “whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement, and creatively transforming the city by presenting WaterFire for all to enjoy.” As a result, the organization relies heavily upon unpaid volunteers to fuel its events. Additionally, visitors from outside of the area flock to WaterFire each year to experience it first-hand.
To take it one step further, WaterFire is conducting an Arts and Health Series. A component of this program will be attributed to the celebration of National Recovery Month, which focuses on substance abuse treatment and other mental health services. This year, the organization has partnered with another local nonprofit, Rally 4 Recovery RI. The organization plans to present audiences with a variety of entertainment, such as film productions, throughout the month of September.
Although this is not the first year in which the two organizations have decided to work together, the co-sponsorship is a fitting way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of National Recovery Month. According to an article written by WaterFire employee, Tim Blankenship, Rally 4 Recovery RI concludes these events by honoring those who have been impacted by drug and alcohol addiction. Culminating with rallies throughout several cities in Rhode Island, and one in Providence on Sept. 14, WaterFire will hold a lighting in support of this cause. The organization seeks to assist and promote awareness for those that are struggling as well as individuals in recovery.
The WaterFire website states, “The power of WaterFire Providence to attract millions of visitors is eloquent testimony to the importance of public art and its capacity to restore our urban and social landscape.” Just as with WaterFire Providence, Rally 4 Recovery RI is a nonprofit that contributes positively to the community of Providence and beyond. Many can attest to the fact that WaterFire provides functional entertainment for its participants but ultimately serves much larger purposes.