PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ After lying dormant for more than a year, the braziers along the Providence River were ignited Wednesday night in celebration of the eventual return of a downtown tradition.

WaterFire Providence CEO Peter Mello announced the popular event will be returning to the city, albiet in a limited capacity, this fall.

The pandemic prevented WaterFire from happening last year, since the free event typically attracts large crowds. It was the first time in WaterFire’s 25-year history that no lightings were scheduled.

“WaterFire is not only an iconic tourist attraction in our capital city, it’s also an economic driver that draws hundreds of thousands of people to downtown Providence to support our local businesses,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “This kind of economic activity is crucial to continuing our recovery from the pandemic and our small businesses need it.”

The return of WaterFire is, in part, thanks to financial support from the city and state. Mello said the organization lost its private sponsorships during the pandemic, putting the future of the downtown art installation in jeopardy.

Earlier this year, McKee and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza committed a combined $600,000 to the organization. Mello said without the additional funding, the upcoming season wouldn’t have been possible.

“We couldn’t be happier or more excited about getting back downtown and on the river to make the magic of WaterFire happen,” Mello said.

The 2021 schedule will consist of four full lightings and five partial lightings. The first full lighting will take place Sept. 4 and will be in honor of the nation’s COVID heroes. Click here for more information »

Courtesy: WaterFire Providence

“I can think of no better event to safely welcome people back to Providence and celebrate all that makes our city unique,” Elorza said.