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october, 2021

16oct5:00 p.m.11:00 p.m.Saturday, October 16Full Lighting5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. WaterFire, 4 North Main Street, Providence RI 02903 Event Organized By: WaterFire Providence Event Type:Free

Event Details

Boat Procession at WaterFire. Photograph by Kevin Murray.
Boat Procession at WaterFire. Photograph by Kevin Murray.

Supported by Papitto Opportunity Connection and Brown University

Full lighting
Sunset (6:02 p.m.) – 11:00 p.m.
Onshore activities will begin at 5:00 p.m.
Music Program

Celebrating Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Communities & Welcoming Parents & Alumni for Brown’s Family Weekend

The lighting will begin approximately 20 minutes past sunset (6:02 p.m.) and the fires will remain lit until 11:00 p.m. 

Performances Starting at 5:00 p.m on the Waterplace Basin Stage

This Saturday, there will be a line-up of musical performers and entertainers who will all be people of color, including a jazz performance by the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s Emmett Van Leer Quartet on Washington Street, a lion dance by youth from the RI Kung Fu Lion Dance Club, and music, dance, and storytelling by Thawn & Eleanor Harris Narragansett Family Dance Troupe.

Chinese Lion Dance performance at WaterFire in 2013
Chinese Lion Dance performance at WaterFire in 2013. Photograph by Jeffrey Stolzberg.
Gendo Taiko performs on the Waterplace Basin Stage. Photo by Kevin Murray.
Gendo Taiko performs on the Waterplace Basin Stage.
Photo by Kevin Murray.

Performances and Resource Fair Starting at 5:30 p.m. on Steeple Street

The evening will feature a music stage, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. on Steeple Street featuring Caribbean soul music by the Becky Bass band, salsa, and merengue performed by Robertico Arias y su Alebreke. There will be Capoeira performances by Grupo Ondas on College Street from 5-8:30 p.m. The Brown/RISD Japanese drumming group Gendo Taiko will also perform on College at 9:00 and 9:40 p.m.

The Steeple Street Community Resource Fair will include:

Becky Bass
Grupo Ondas capoeira batizado at WaterFire.
Photograph by Matthew Huang.

During this event, as a special salute, we are displaying throughout the WaterFire footprint all 193 flags of every nation to salute Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island for the 100th year of their service in welcoming newcomers to Rhode Island.  

Visitors are welcome to enjoy local food from festival favorites: Saugy’s, Sweet Smokin’ Pits, Kettle Korn Express, and Frenchy’s Popcorn. Trinity Brewhouse will be serving beer, wine, and soft drinks on Steeple Street.

See Lily, The “Woman in White” living statue from A Silent Soapbox on the corner of the Washington Street Bridge. Fire spinning performances from Cirque de Light will light up the rivers, look for multiple performances during the night. Crowd favorite Andrew Anselmo, Origami Master will be delighting audiences young and old in Market Square.

Silent Soapbox Lily
“Lily” by a Silent Soapbox
Liz Knights performing at WaterFire Providence, photo by John Nickerson,
Cirque de Light performing at WaterFire
Photograph by John Nickerson,

The Rhode Island Department of Health will have a pop-up vaccination and info tent on Washington Street from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Visitors can get free vaccine shots, learn about COVID-19 testing and prevention. Volunteers from Fidelity Investments will be on-site handing out face masks and answering questions. Alert Ambulance will also be on hand doing COVID-19 testing. Tests are free and results will be available on the spot.

WaterFire Providence, in close cooperation with the Rhode Island Department of Health, requests all visitors, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear masks while attending the WaterFire event. Please remain aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from anyone outside your family/pod. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home and get tested as soon as possible. Visit the RIDOH website for additional COVID-19 testing and vaccine information (

Papitto Opportunity Connection

The Papitto Opportunity Connection is a non-profit private foundation dedicated to listening and working together with Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to empower and create individual success stories by investing in education, job skills training, and entrepreneurial ventures. 

“The Papitto Opportunity Connection is proud to support this WaterFire which brings together BIPOC artists, performers and music to celebrate the heritage and unique contributions people of color have made to the Ocean State,” said John A. Tarantino, managing trustee of the Papitto Opportunity Connection. “By bringing together all of our communities of color, we are hoping to help forge long-lasting connections and create pathways to new opportunities.”

Brown University

Brown’s co-sponsorship of the Oct. 16 lighting comes as the University welcomes parents and family members of current students from across the globe to Providence for Family Weekend. An annual tradition, the weekend gives students the chance to offer their families a small taste of the intellectual and cultural vitality of the Brown experience and the opportunity to engage firsthand in the Providence community.

University President Christina H. Paxson said that Brown’s co-sponsorship of the WaterFire lighting is an investment not just in the events of Oct. 16, but in the transformative long-term economic and cultural impact that WaterFire has made and continues to make in Providence and Rhode Island.

“Brown is an academic institution driven to serve the greater good, and it is the work of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni that turn that mission into reality by making a positive impact in communities in Providence and well beyond,” she said. “Since launching WaterFire in the mid-1990s, Brown Class of 1975 graduate Barnaby Evans and the dedicated staff and volunteers who make this truly one-of-a-kind experience happen each year have made just such an impact in our city in ways nearly impossible to imagine 25 years ago. This exceptional display of public art has brought new life to the capital, new economic activity to once-quiet streets and new opportunities for residents and visitors alike to take pride in Providence. At Brown, we are excited to build on previous partnerships with WaterFire to co-sponsor this lighting — we know it will capture the imaginations of local community members and visitors to Family Weekend traveling to Rhode Island from across the globe.”


WaterFire ProvidenceWaterFire Providence® is an independent, 501(c)3 nonprofit arts 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. 475 Valley Street, Providence, RI 02908