On Saturday night, I volunteered (again) at the last Providence WaterFire of the year last night and I had a great time. WaterFire is a non-profit arts organization where they light a bunch of bonfires on the rivers that run through Providence. It’s supposed to be an urban festival which engages the community and encourages the arts.
According to the WaterFire website, “it has over eighty 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.”
Bottom line: 500,000 people spread out over the entire city and lots of bonfires everywhere. It’s actually pretty impressive. Here’s a picture of the main basin. Each of the torches is held by a member of the lighting crew and was walked down individually around the Providence Waterplace Park.
Working security at WaterFire is an awesome combination of many things I love, namely moving people and fire. It’s pretty cool to light torches and watch the lighting canoes from the shore. Working on the lighting crew sounds cool at first, but then you find out that you have to throw lumber into the braziers for hours at a time without bathroom or phone breaks. Plus you’re stuck on the boat so you better hope you like the other 4 people on there with you. Also, you go down the river and miss out on the cool lighting acts in the main basin. So basically, it sounds cool but it’s not.
We trick all the new volunteers into doing it.
A few highlights: this is the last one of the year and this particular WaterFire had a breast cancer theme (main sponsor for the October lighting was the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation) which made it even better. It was a nice tie-in with my residency – a few of our MDs were somewhere in the audience. The concert in the park they had was pretty decent and the food vendors were pretty good.
Secondly, one of the original lighting crew ducked out because she was feeling sick after the procession. So I stepped up to hold her torch. Here’s me on one of the secondary bridges holding 1 of 150 torches we had around the basin.
Third, I got JP to go too. So what if he technically he wasn’t on the volunteer list? We just acted like he belonged in my group and when they came over, they were checking names. So they asked, “Are you Reginald Williams?” and we totally went with it.
Fourth, we went to the famous Haven Bros afterwards and got some delicious burgers. Haven Bros is a foodtruck and I found out that it’s actually one of the oldest restaurants on wheels in America (founded in 1888 as a horse drawn lunch wagon), which is pretty sweet. Man, I am just full of Providence culture. If “Haven Brothers” sounds familiar, it’s because it was featured on Man vs Food (which they bragged about with posters everywhere). Either way, the place has amazing burgers and fries and was great for late-night eats.
Also, notice that I’m wearing short sleeves. The weather was perfect yesterday and today too! It was almost a record high for Providence (80 degrees in October!!). I can’t believe how spoiled I was in Florida, I took the perfect weather for granted. I am really starting to enjoy Rhode Island, especially with these weird made-up holidays the have. For example, the hospital is closed for Columbus Day (read more on Columbus Day here).