We woke up on Saturday morning (September 26, 2015) and asked each other, “What are we going to do today?” Mama Nomad said, “What about WaterFire?” I responded, “Okay. Let’s do that.” Then it sank in. What is WaterFire? So I, of course, asked Mama Nomad and she gave me the 411 on the event. She told me that they light bonfires on the water shortly past sunset and keep them burning until 12:30 am or so. It sounded interesting so we went.
We hopped in Ebony and away we went. We arrived in Providence around 4:30pm. We scouted the area until we found a great place to park up on Main Street. The streets around the area are mostly one way. So, what we did was exit Interstate 95 and head down Memorial Blvd. We turned left on the Crawford Street bridge and followed it down a few blocks. The Crawford Street Bridge takes you down Water St. When we got to James St, we turned left and then turned left on Main St. We parked somewhere around Powers St.
The parking costs $1.25 per hour with a 2 hour minimum. By the time we parked, it was 4:45pm and from 6pm on the parking is free. So, we dropped $2.50 into the meter and we were good to go. Important note, the meters only give you credit for quarters. Do not put nickels and dimes into the meters. You will get zero credit and no coin return levers exist.
We found out that WaterFire starts at the Waterplace Park Basin. This is just a little west of where Memorial Blvd and Exchange St meet. Follow the river walk down the Woonasquatucket River and you can’t miss it. It extends for about 6 blocks down the side of the Providence River to The Crawford Street Bridge with around 100 bonfires being lit down the middle of the river the whole way.
We went to the Waterplace Basin, which is lined with condos and apartments on one side. Adjacent to those buildings is a long, rolling, grassy hill. Affixed on that grassy hill is a pavilion, of sorts. It has patio areas on lower and upper levels. The Nomads climbed the stairs to the upper level and got a spectacular view of the basin, where the lighting ceremony began. The music was some sort of medieval, somber, ceremonial type music with some Gregorian type monk chanting intertwined. It went well with all the torches, boats and fires. We stayed there to see the whole lighting ceremony and, let me tell you, it was a site to behold.
After the bonfires were lit in the basin, the boats continued down the river. We vacated the upper patio area and headed down to the river side to walk along the water and admire all of the bonfires. We eventually got back to the populated area where the vendors were between Washington and College Streets on Canal Street. We continued to walk south of College Street into Market Square. This is an area where you will find a WWII and Korean War Memorial.
The park area in Market Square is somewhere you will want to explore at night. Around the base of the WWII memorial, you will find living statues of gargoyles and Norse figures. They accept tips and will move to their next pose upon tipping. When you explore a little further down, you will find a park filled with illuminated stars hanging from trees. This marks the end of the celebratory area.
The Nomads had a great time at WaterFire. So much so that we are thinking of going back to their last one of the year in November. If you are within a few hours of Providence during the times when they are doing WaterFire, plan an evening to go over and check it out. It is another once in a lifetime experience. You can find out more from Water Fire’s website – http://waterfire.org/. If you do go, tell the volunteers from LivingNomadStyle.com recommended it. Safe Travels.