[sc name=photo-caption caption=”Fife and drum at WaterFire. Photo by John Nickerson.” ]
You could say that the original WaterFire happened on June 9, 1772. Most historians agree that when a small group of Providence citizens set the British Gaspee alight in the Providence bay that this was the starting point of the Revolutionary War! On Saturday June 13th, WaterFire Providence will honor the burning of Gaspee, 243 years later. This event will retell the story of the group of Providence citizens who attacked the Gaspee on that fateful day in June of 1772. Rhode Island was the site of the first organized rebellion against the British crown a year and a half before the Boston Tea Party. Rhode Island citizens met at Sabin’s Tavern to debate the challenges, opportunities, and risks of rebellion, and ultimately decided to take action against the British. They launched long boats after dark and attacked the British sloop, HMS Gaspee, near Warwick Neck when it ran aground on Namquid Point. After capturing her captain and crew the American patriots burned the vessel to the waterline.
[sc name=photo-caption caption=”Buzzard’s Bay rowing club at WaterFire. Photo by John Nickerson.” ]
Back to present day Providence, WaterFire Providence is rallying the troops once again! This time the fires have been organized and planned ahead of time. We will be illuminating 150 torches during the June 13th WaterFire lighting to commemorate this historic event. This procession of torches will require dozens of WaterFire volunteers, now is your time to shine!
WaterFire will bring to life key characters of the time such as Lt. William Dudingston, Captain of the Gaspee, James Sabin, owner of the Sabin’s Tavern, and many more. You have a unique opportunity to get up close with these historical reenactors and literally bring the light to their stories.
Volunteers are needed to help us bring history to life, and transport thousands of guests back to colonial times! We will be joined by the Pawtuxet Rangers and are excited to welcome, for the first time, the US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps from Washington DC. The Pawtuxet Rangers and the Old Guard will be marching through the crowds illuminated by volunteers’ torches. Be one of the lucky ones who light up the night, as fife and drums fill the air. Bring a few friends or family members (18+) to join you as a WaterFire Special Ops Volunteer!
Signing up is easy, just email us at [email protected] to get started.
About the author
I've worked at WaterFire Providence since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career, I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. In 2012 transitioned to the role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I now head up WaterFire Providence's digital projects including, web, social, databases, and our physical IT infrastructure.