WaterFire in Providence has become a very popular urban art installation and event. Which means that it's also utterly mobbed. I am spoiled for having seen my first WaterFire ten years ago on a slow evening, the event almost canceled by rain which let up just before. My friend and I wandered along the canals astonished. It was almost spooky - the odd piped-in music echoing over the water and off the canal walls, the candle-lit candelabras under the bridges throwing shadows from another century, a gondola ferrying people beside the burning braziers strung like jewels down the center of the canal. The elemental power of the water, fire, and music was magical and seemed to hush all the people there.
I went to a few other WaterFire events over the years when I lived at my condo, which was a little over a half-hour drive away. The crowds increased, although side events were added to siphon off some of the people to stages nearby. I could also stay late sometimes and wait out the crowds.
I hadn't been to a WaterFire event in 5 years, and D had never been, so we drove down from Boston on Saturday evening. Our first stop was Federal Hill, Providence's Italian neighborhood. We lucked into good parking and then into a great table outside in DePasquale Square. The cafes and the fountain seats were full of people and it turned out many were there on the warm summer evening to hear a pair of singers who soon arrived to sing oldies mixed with a few Italian-American classics to the crowd. It was fun. Our food was delicious - we both had garlicky rainbow trout with perfectly roasted potatoes and crisp-tender broccoli. Yum.
After dinner, we headed over to WaterFire, which as I said was packed with people, who were quite noisy but seemed to be having a good time. I led D slowly through the crowds to see the highlights, and I think he enjoyed seeing it. It was Chinese culture night and the highlight for me came when a beautiful Chinese singer appeared to float atop the water like an apparition, her haunting song reverberating over the water and off the stone walls of the canal. (There was also this Renoir moment found later on my camera!)