PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — “The community.” “Watching it evolve.” “Brown, the food, the art, the vibes.” Those were just a few of the thoughts expressed in chalk by visitors to WaterFire Providence on Saturday, Oct. 22, as part of a community art prompt that asked participants their favorite things about the city.
Many of those same sentiments could have been said of WaterFire itself — a full lighting sponsored by Brown University as part of its ongoing commitment to and connection with the City of Providence.
The creation of Brown Class of 1975 graduate Barnaby Evans, WaterFire Providence has not only helped to transform the city culturally and economically over two and a half decades, it still offers one of the most unique urban experiences in the nation. Crackling fires floated atop Providence’s rivers; scents of blazing cedar were ever-present; classical and world music wafted through the air; flickering firelight lit the city’s arched bridges; and crisp October temperatures didn’t hurt the ambiance either.
It was a superb Saturday night celebration of communities from both Brown and well beyond.
Brown Alumni Association president and Class of 2000 graduate Carlos Lejnieks kicked off the night’s lighting ceremony at Waterplace park, lending perspective from his full-time job as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties in New Jersey.
“We see the assets of our communities every single day,” Lejnieks said. “We see them in the families we work with. We see them in the streets we walk along. We see them in the traditions that emerge. And as a community-based leader, it is a sincere blessing to know that when things like this — WaterFire — emerge from the community, that they embrace the creativity of our community, that they embrace the arts in our community, and that they're partnered with an anchor institution like Brown University.”
Lejnieks noted that Brown’s sponsorship of the lighting came as the University celebrated multiple occasions: a Family Weekend that welcomed thousands of parents and family members of current students from across the globe; the return of volunteer leaders from Brown’s alumni community; and a commemoration of 50 years of impact in medical education.