WaterFire takes place along the walkways bordering the Providence rivers. These walkways have been designed and built to be ADA compliant. Although most of the walkways are handicap accessible in some form or manner, accessibility can be difficult in crowded situations. During a typical WaterFire, the walking crowds assembled from the time of the lighting through about 10:00 p.m. can form a considerable obstacle for persons with challenged mobility. These crowds also present potential problems to persons with dogs, strollers, or small children. After 10:00 p.m., the crowds tend to thin out and the walkways become easier to navigate.
Wheelchairs can traverse along most of the walkways, but the cobblestone surface can cause difficulties. There are viewing locations that can be accessed by wheelchair, but the access ramp may not be conveniently located. There are also some areas along the waterfront that require the visitor to climb or descend several steps with no access ramp available
There are two vantage-points that we recommend for those who do not wish to contend with the crowds on the walkways or require space for seating. The upper walkway overlooking the Gondola Landing next to Citizens Bank is the best location. Visitors may park in the Citizen’s Bank lot for a fee, and there are handicapped parking spots available. These spots are extremely close to the upper walkway. Seating is very limited. We recommend that you arrive 45 minutes or more before the start of the fires to secure prime viewing locations. Many senior citizen groups choose this spot. The other location that presents good viewing is Memorial Park near the War Memorial statues. Parking is very limited in this area. For those who would like to see the entire installation, you can expect to walk about a half mile from end to end.
Elevator access from street level to the riverwalk is available at two points. Inside the Skyline restaurant on Finance Way, there is an elevator that into the Waterplace Park Basin and there is a second elevator at the entrance to the Waterplace Towers condos and Jacky’s Waterplace Restaurant that can take visitors down the riverwalk near Exchange Street.
Handicapped restroom facilities are located at the Rhode Island School of Design auditorium. For precise location of facilities, please consult the WaterFire Event Map. You can also get turn-by-turn directions using the WaterFire mobile app on iOS.
For more accessibility options check out the WaterFire Access Boat program.