WaterFire Providence welcomes you to our:

2018 Year in Review

WaterFire and the events that bring it to life on the rivers of Providence are truly open to all. No ticket required, no cover charge, there are no prerequisites, WaterFire does not draw lines.

You come to be wowed by the spectacle; to see, feel, and hear the flames. Imagination is kindled and surprises greet you around every corner. WaterFire is a place of quiet reflection where you become more open to chance encounters and conversation flourishes. Whatever you are seeking, you can find it at WaterFire.

2018 WaterFire Season Highlights

June 10

RI Day of Portugal at WaterFire

Sunday, June 10th, 2018 was certainly a momentous day in Providence, it was the final day of PVDFest and the second of two days of annual celebration of Portuguese heritage and history that comprises Rhode Island Day of Portugal. This day was the 41st RI Day of Portugal celebration and there was even a WaterFire lighting planned for the day’s special guests. We were honored and excited to have Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Secretary of State Jose Luis Cordeiro, and President of the Azores Vasco Cordeiro, along with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza as part of the celebration.

July 28

C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C

For the fifth year running WaterFire Providence joined in a public awareness campaign about hepatitis C as part of Dr. Lynn E. Taylor’s RI Defeats Hep C campaign. “We are organizing a statewide campaign to eliminate hep C in RI. With the powerful new medicines we now have available and the cooperative networks for care in RI organized by the RI Department of Health we have a chance to greatly improve the health of all Rhode Islanders impacted by this disease.”

September 8

Tech Night at WaterFire

Tech Night at WaterFire brought together some of the most innovative and fastest growing technology companies in Rhode Island. The goal of the event was to increase awareness of local entrepreneurial and employment opportunities in technology, promote networking and collaboration among technology industry employees, and showcase some of the innovative products and services being pioneered in Rhode Island.

September 22

WaterFire’s Salute to Rhode Island Educators & Big Bang Science Fair at WaterFire

WaterFire’s Salute to Rhode Island Educators

Together with the community we celebrate our successes in education across Rhode Island, showcase interesting and successful projects, and commending teachers and educators who have been recognized for excellence.

“Big Bang Science Fair” at WaterFire

The event celebrates the intersections between science and the arts. We invite kids and adults of all ages to participate in the free, hands-on activities and discover science in our daily lives. For one exciting day, famous scientists team up with musicians, programmers, artists, and chefs to explore the wonders of science.

September 29

Flames of Hope a Celebration of Life™

Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather to light the way towards hope and healing for anyone touched by breast cancer. Gloria Gemma’s Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life™ was created to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by turning the city of Providence PINK and sparking a movement to inspire awareness, compassion, and support. This weekend-long celebration embraces everyone who has been impacted by cancer.

November 10

WaterFire Salute to Veterans

The WaterFire Salute to Veterans event is a collaborative, community-wide celebration, whose mission is to honor and recognize all United States veterans, active and reserve military personnel and families for their service, sacrifice and contributions to this nation, and to organize, exhibit and highlight the wealth of veteran-oriented organizations and services available to them.

The WaterFire lighting kicked off with a spectacular Salute to Veterans Torch Procession and Ring of Fire in Waterplace Basin. Veterans from around our community processed into the Waterplace Park Basin led by the RI Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums. Here they were joined ny their brothers and sisters in arms to surround the basin in a ring of fire ceremony with a presentation of the colors as the National Anthem and a full music program was played by the Navy Band Northeast Rhode Island Sound and the Governor’s own Army 88th Band on the basin stage.

Performances that surprise and delight!

WaterFire Brings The City To Life

Say "hello" to our

New Team Members

Photograph by Peoneemoull Pech.

From left to right, top to bottom: Henry Lattimore, Dan Trottier, Kristina McKenzie, Jamie Leiva, Jerry Suggs, Eusebio “Angel” Moyet, Jen Kobza, Connie Kile, and Yosola Aregbesola.

We added nine new team members to our diverse and talented team in 2018.

Henry Lattimore, Eusebio “Angel” Moyet, and Dan Trottier are handy additions to our production team; they build and maintain the physical equipment that makes WaterFire possible. Kristina McKenzie and Jen Kobza are working to make sure everything and everyone are where they needed right on time on our operations team. Jamie Leiva returned to WaterFire Providence to lead our volunteer department after working for two years at the American Heart Association. Yosola Aregbesola, managing our on-shore volunteers, and Jerry Suggs, running our education and internship programs, round out the volunteer department. Last, but not least, Connie Kile joined out development department to become our first philanthropy manager.

Together with our new team members, the WaterFire staff continues to build on WaterFire Providence’s more than 20 years as a creative placemaking leader and a vital part of Rhode Island cultural economy.

Volunteers In Action!

WaterFire is more complex than it appears, it takes months of planning, coordination with state and local officials, the support of our generous sponsors and donors, and most importantly the physical presence, dedication and hard work of hundreds of volunteers to make each lighting a success. Volunteers are the heart and soul of WaterFire. Whether they are making lunch, building braziers, piloting the WaterFire Access program boat, greeting visitors, or helping during strike, the enthusiasm and esprit de corps that each individual adds to the equation truly make us a community that is greater that sum of its parts.

2018 Volunteering Stats At A Glance

  1. Total hours: 7,474.92
  2. Value of Volunteer House: $195,618.66
    (Value at $26.17 per hour)
  3. Total number of volunteers: 2,726
  4. Total number new volunteers: 720

Total hours by activity:

  1. WaterFire Lightings: 2,547
  2. Captains’ Training: 309
  3. Special Projects: 643.50
  4. Event Prep & Logistics: 65.32
  5. Focus Group Meetings: 62
  6. WaterFire Store: 444
  7. Woodpile Workouts: 479
Tomorrow's emerging leaders

The Interns of WaterFire

From left to right, top to bottom: Alexis Gordon, Lindsay Carreiro, Marissa Scott, Abbie Miller, Kyle Shaw, Martha Vilas, Caroline Tompkins, Mary Kate Hickey, Peoneemoull Pech, Khalilah Hinton, Luiza Alves, Anthony Morelli, Christopher Cabral, Jodie Lavigne, Maya Hayda, Devanshi Ved, Jennifer Kobza, Margarita Gonzalez, Jenna Palmer, Noah Tavares, India Vickers, Keegan Heston, Sarah Hodgens, Shannon Adeleye, Harriet Cassell, Bridget Edwards, Owen Monroe, Amanda Torigian, Harper Smith, Giandra Rivas, Samantha Ullrich, and Katherine Entwistle | not pictured: Kristina Canton, Jacob Perrone, Jarixa Ramirez and Michael Tollestrup

Every year WaterFire Providence introduces four new classes (spring, summer, fall, and winter) of student interns to the team. In 2018, we had 36 students and young professionals from 26 different high schools and colleges take part in our internship program. Many college students gained academic credit working in nonprofit public art administration, fundraising, event planning, graphic design (and more!) while high school students were able to fulfill work-based learning credit requirements.

A champion of the arts in Rhode Island.

Dr. Joseph Chazan receives the 2018 Outstanding Philanthropic Citizens Award

FireBall Honorary Co-Chairs, Joseph A. Chazan, M.D. and Victoria Veh on the FireBall Red Carpet. Photograph by Kevin Murray
WaterFire Providence would like to congratulate Dr. Joseph Chazan on being awarded the Outstanding Philanthropic Citizens Award by the AFP – Rhode Island Chapter.

“I encourage everyone who can to choose organizations whose work is important – and done well – and give to them regularly. Giving back, when we’re able, not only enhances our lives but also is the right thing to do.”

A beautiful mix of philanthropy and sponsorship!

Our New Access Program Boat Launches

With the generous support of Lead Access Program Sponsor Bryant University, its Graduate, & Physician Assistant Programs, WaterFire board member Mark Scott and the help of WaterFire Access Boat Captain Mark Karas, along with volunteers and individual donors, WaterFire Providence has been able to bring back the Access Program to the WaterFire 2018 season.

WaterFire’s commitment to include each and every visitor resulted in WaterFire’s Access Program; The Access Program is offered by WaterFire to accommodate individuals with disabilities so they may enjoy the magic of WaterFire free from the physical restrictions and challenges the outdoor location might present.

Read more »

– 475 Valley Street –

Highlights from the WaterFire Arts Center

An art installation by Ryan Mendoza


Ryan Mendoza’s The Rosa Parks House Project is an art installation that honors Rosa Parks and the struggles she faced due to her courageous leadership in the civil rights movement. The house speaks to issues of the centrality of family connection in the African American experience, of the Great Migration, of segregation, of redlining of faulty mortgages and the housing crisis, of misogyny, as well as of the marginalization of black oral history.  The artwork was created with the support of the nieces and nephews of Rosa Parks and includes recreations of remembered details of her stay with them in that house.

The Rosa Parks House Project at the WaterFire Arts Center was sponsored by VisitRhodeIsland.com and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. Funding is provided by the Nash Family Foundation. Additional support is provided by Amica Insurance honoring Cheryl Watkins Snead’s leadership in the Rhode Island community.  Other partners and contributors include the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, YouthBuild Providence, ACLU , NAACP, the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Art and Art History, Robert Dilworth and Jeanne Theoharis.

Read more »

In partnership with the Wilbury Theatre Group


Founded in 2014 by The Wilbury Theatre Group, The Providence Fringe Festival®, a.k.a FRINGEPVD, is produced to nurture emerging and established performing artists by presenting fun, fearless and affordable theater to the community. FRINGEPVD creates ties between artists, audiences, businesses and local organizations, amplifying the vibrancy of Providence as a renowned cultural destination and an unparalleled place to live, work, and visit.

2018 was the second year of FRINGEPVD at the WaterFire Arts Center and include 51 performances over 5 nights. In addition to the five performances spaces at the WaterFire Arts Center FRINGEPVD shows were held at several nearby Olneyville locations including the Courtyard at The PlantThe Steel YardRiffraffYellow Peril Gallery, and the Wilbury Theatre Group’s own performance space.

FIREBALL - Our signature fundraiser!

It was our pleasure to welcome hundreds of you into our new home at the WaterFire Arts Center. You helped us raise more than $140,000 in support of WaterFire Providence’s mission of fostering community engagement and inspiring Rhode Island and its visitors through art.

Our emcees for this year’s FireBall were Will Gilbert & Michaela Johnson from The Rhode Show on WPRI.

This year’s event featured several performances from the incredible aerialists of Arielle Extreme, live music from Lloyd Kaplan’s Aristocats and amazing swing dancers from Providence Swings!

Thank you!

Thank you. It’s that simple. In case we haven’t told you recently, we can’t do it without you.

WaterFire and the events that bring it to life on the rivers of Providence are truly open to all. No ticket required no cover charge, there are no prerequisites, WaterFire does not draw lines.

You come to be wowed by the spectacle; to see, feel, and hear the flames. Imagination is kindled and surprises greet you around every corner. WaterFire is a place of quiet reflection where you become more open to chance
encounters and conversation flourishes. Whatever you are seeking you can find it at WaterFire.

WaterFire brings our community into the core of our city so that we can all rediscover the simple joys that bind us together.

In the paper, on TV, in your news feed, the constant flow of information is almost overwhelming. The good things are nearly overwhelmed by scary and tragic sound bites, but we know that by working together we can conquer any challenge we face. WaterFire is built by its community and counts on our friends for support. Richard Daley, Former Mayor of Chicago famously said, “politicians don’t bring people together. Artists do.” In these problematic times, we must always remember, what we are looking for can be found in the people, places, and connections that inspire us to break through daily woes.

Together, you have helped us to salute educators, honor veterans, and shine a light for breast cancer survivors. At the WaterFire Arts Center, we exhibited Ryan Mendoza’s Rosa Parks House Project which confronted our preconceptions of the civil rights movement and embraced the cutting edge of performance art at FRINGEPVD.

All of this is thanks to the support of friends like you.

Please consider making a donation to help keep the fires burning.

A special thanks to our photographers, videographers, and producers:

Luis Andrade, Tom Backman, Jen Bonin, Duane Brouillette, Drew Christhilf, Yvonne Coyle, Erin Cuddigan, Matthew Huang, Tim Labonte, Tom Lincoln, Luke Mello, Jeff Meunier, Kevin Murray, Chloe Nanian, John Nickerson, Laura Paton, Peoneemoull Pech, Jake Perrone, Kelly Riley, Norma Smith, Jeff Stolzberg, Noah Tavares, Michael Tollestrup, and Jon Waugh