“Oh, you go to PC? I’ve heard about their fire on the water! Have you seen it?” Maybe I’m the only one, but this point of interrogation managed to find me several times throughout the summer. This was then followed by the reluctant response that no, I had never attended the miraculous event. Among the freshman fervor and sophomore chaos, the one event that escaped me seemed to be the one activity that all outsiders had been mysteriously informed of. Needless to say, the first weekend of Waterfire this year at PC, I was there front and center. Standing across from the Providence Place Mall, I peaked over the stone bridge to see the burning flames below. At first glance, I was slightly disappointed having built up expectations from all the hype, assuming the flames would be bigger or the display more extravagant. As I descended the stairs to water level, however, I was surprised to find myself filled with a strange serenity. The walkways were filled with people making their way around on a Saturday night in the city. No one was rushing or shoving their way through. No one was drunk and yelling their conversations. No one had looks of disgust from some recent struggle, whether with public transportation, lines, or strangers. The aroma and radiant glow of the flames combined with the ritualistic music set a very content atmosphere. Making my way around the river, I noticed that there were boats skimming the water, allowing for some lucky attendees to get a closer feel of the floating flames. I wondered to myself if these canoers trained to find their way around the flames, because if I were down there I would without a doubt accidently veer into one which would cause quite a scene. After a few moments of watching their tact with true appreciation, I was swept back in the current of people and the scenery. Antique candle chandeliers hung from archways and statues begun to adjust positions, revealing shimmering painted humans beneath. Red spot lights shone on the old structured buildings emitting a glow of ambiance. For those more bitter souls, attending without a partner and not looking for the romantic scene, they found food vendors further down the street who could instigate cravings from just one sniff. Stages filled with upbeat Spanish dancers and singers lined the walkways and crowds formed around magicians and Kokopelli bands. The primary event of the night, however, was Ballroom dancing. One may scrunch their eyebrows at this formal event curious how it could coincide with vendors and street bands, but upon arrival at the scene expectations were changed. A street intersection was blocked off only to be consumed with people of all ages dancing in the street. Not only were older couples working up a sweat, but younger ones such as myself swayed awkwardly, teasing while stepping on one another’s toes. The kids present either danced on their parent’s hip or sat on the curb eating popcorn and watching curiously. Maybe it’s my incessant fascination with people watching that draws me to things such as this, but nonetheless, even for those of you who don’t take such pleasure, you could wander the streets for a few hours with continual new forms of entertainment to capture your interest. So in reply to all those curious folks from home, I would highly recommend attending Waterfire at least once. It is without a doubt a divine part of the Providence experience.Waterfire Providence, RI
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