Photograph by Barnaby Evans

My good friend Carmelita graduated from RISD, and she decided to re-visit the campus and the city a couple of years ago, for old time’s sake. She convinced me to tag along with her after regaling me with stories of cool summer nights spent strolling along the riverwalk lit only by ‘floating’ bonfires and revelers’ glow necklaces – all to the soundtrack of classical music and mid-century jazz.

At the time, I was going through a rough phase in my emotional life; Carmelita figured that a visit to Providence in August would be the remedy to, or at least a break from, my troubles. I was cynical, but figured I might as well visit the city if only just to say I’d been there. . .

I cannot express just how much WaterFire exceeded my expectations. As we walked by the water, slowly and leisurely, I felt a gradual release from within. Maybe the water washed the pain away; maybe the fire burned it into oblivion. Maybe it was the children’s laughter. Maybe the music replaced the thoughts of despair. Maybe it was my friend who distracted me with the party mask she had purchased; she pretended to be Owl Girl. “Oohh”, she would coo, and she looked pretty silly. Then again, silliness is exactly what I needed. I felt like a carefree kid again, and I loved it. I felt like I could fly, and I felt like the worst was far behind me.

And it was. Now there are only good memories and they all center around WATERFIRE.

– Anonymous

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