Date October 12, 2022
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Brown to sponsor WaterFire lighting on Oct. 22, featuring community, student activities

The University’s sponsorship of the late-October lighting comes during Family Weekend and 50 Years of Medicine celebration, and reflects Brown’s commitment to and connection with the City of Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University will sponsor a full lighting of WaterFire Providence on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 22, uniting members of the Brown community with neighbors and families from across the Providence area for a world-class artistic and cultural experience.

Launched in the mid-1990s by Brown Class of 1975 graduate Barnaby Evans, the award-winning WaterFire has been acclaimed by Rhode Island residents and international visitors alike as a powerful work of art and a moving symbol of Providence’s renaissance. During each lighting, more than 80 sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the city’s arched bridges, the silhouettes of the fire-tenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world engage the senses and emotions of those who stroll Providence’s nearby streets and sidewalks.

Brown President Christina H. Paxson said the University’s sponsorship of WaterFire reflects its ongoing commitment to and connection with the City of Providence — as a neighbor, top employer and institution dedicated to a mission of education, research and service.

“In everything from advancing health and medical care in Rhode Island, supporting local K-12 schools and playing a key role in fueling the regional economy, Brown is deeply committed to investing in the success of our local community,” Paxson said. “In the 28 years since Brown graduate Barnaby Evans founded WaterFire, this remarkable installation has illuminated Providence and helped to transform the city culturally and economically. We are excited to build on our previous partnerships with WaterFire, celebrate our enduring commitment to Providence, and ignite new and lasting connections with the city and state we call home.”

Brown’s sponsorship of the Oct. 22 lighting comes as the University welcomes thousands of parents and family members of current students from across the globe to Providence for Family Weekend and for the Warren Alpert Medical School’s Medical Family Weekend, part of a celebration of Brown’s 50 years of impact in medical education and research. The weekend events gives families of Brown students a taste of the intellectual and cultural vitality of Brown and Providence and the opportunity to engage firsthand in the local community. 

Beginning around sunset, the Saturday evening lighting will include a diverse lineup of public performances and events featuring Brown student organizations. A capella performances will fill the streets with musical pieces from the Ursa Minors and Shades of Brown, as well as Beauty and the Beats, a troop that performs popular Disney songs. DAEBAK K-Pop, a group that performs Korean pop music, will join other dance acts, including the Brown Salsa Club. Additionally, Art for Service — a student-led group known for creating murals in public spaces — will lead a live painting event capturing the sights of WaterFire throughout the night. 

Other Brown-affiliated groups hosting various activities for the public include the Warren Alpert Medical School. In celebration of 50 Years of impact in medical education, the medical school will feature MEGA Lungs, an educational exhibit that allows visitors to step inside an inflatable human lung replica. Visitors can learn about the various structures and normal lung functions, observe examples of lung trauma and disease — including lung cancer, the leading cause of death from cancer in Rhode Island — and view displays explaining some of the latest respiratory medical treatments.

An array of Providence-based community organizations will be featured as well. Visitors can also enjoy pop-up art installations, including inflatable art by Pneuhaus and a glass-blowing station led by Gather Glass. Other community organizations participating include the Providence Performing Arts Center and Gallery Night Providence. 

The lighting is free and open to the public. All are encouraged to join members of the Brown community to begin the lighting procession at the basin of Waterplace Park. The night’s events start at 5:45 p.m. with a special performance from folk-rock artist and Brown University student Chance Emerson and brief remarks from Paxson and the Warren Alpert Medical School Dean Mukesh K. Jain. The lighting will immediately follow, approximately 20 minutes past sunset (5:54 p.m.), and the fires will remain lit until 11 p.m.

Brown will also host hospitality tents for Brown parents and families (on Market Square) and Warren Alpert Medical School community members celebrating 50 Years of Medicine at Brown (on Washington Street). The lighting also coincides with events throughout the weekend for Brown alumni volunteer leaders.