Can you believe the summer is starting to wind down? It seems like things are just getting started! For everyone at WaterFire, it’s true, their season has just barely started.
This season is an odd one – usually there are more fires in the summer, and not as many in the fall. But, as a non-profit, we go when the sponsors want a fire, and the way it turned out this year is that there are only a handful of fires in the summer, and many more in the fall! The hard part about that is, as soon as things get really busy, all the summer interns head out! So, what we’ve been doing is a lot of preparation for the fall. We’re trying to take the extra time that we have between fires to get a head up on the fall sweep. Many of the projects that I’m working on are for dates late into the fall, some almost heading into Winter!
One closer project that I’m working on, however, is the August 10th lighting timeline. What the timeline is is a comprehensive spreadsheet of what everyone’s doing at every moment during an event day – who’s where, doing what, and how it needs to get done. Usually, PK, the director of operations is in charge of putting together this huge project. Instead, the four operations interns get the chance to work on this timeline as one of our final projects. So far, it’s going very well. After being involved in WaterFire for so long, we know for the most part what needs to be done at each event and by whom. What we need to figure out is the new features that are different for each event. For example, at the August 10th fire, one of our main sponsors, Fidelity, has large neon cranes that will be mounted on the VIP boats and hanging from the College St. Bridge. OK. So – how are they going to get there? Who’s going to check that they work, load them in the right truck, check the mountings, install them, turn them on, and strike them? How will this new addition change the work that people already do at each fire? Besides the sound system for the concert, delivery of rentals and catering, we essentially do everything ourselves- by hand. This hand-made quality is a part of what makes WaterFire so special – and all the more challenging.
I look forward to meeting these challenges and hopefully pulling together one awesome final event! Please join us on August 10th in Providence to see my final event of the summer!
Also, if you’re interested in seeing some other things that myself and other interns have to say about WaterFire, check out our intern tumblr blog at http://interns.waterfire.org/
This Saturday, I spent most of the day battling the rain, wind, and frigid cold, setting up, lighting the first WaterFire and ending my night sitting in a hospital bed. So- I’ll back up. This weekend was WaterFire’s first lighting of the season. As with any WaterFire, it was a huge undertaking, especially for all the new interns who had never worked an event before. From 6 am, staff were on-site setting up everything from power cables, tents, boats, and speaker systems. We arrived at 8:30 and got right to work. For most of the day, I worked with two of my supervisors, Jamie and Julia, to set up the VIP tent called the Brazier Society.
It was challenging, but very rewarding to see the final product opening at the end of the night. The rest of the night was spent running to and from to wherever they needed help. One of my jobs on WaterFire evenings is to be in charge of the Special Ops team of volunteers. “Special Ops” refers to the special events that make each WaterFire different and exciting. For this WaterFire, we lead a team of 16 torch-bearing volunteers through the crowd, to light the torches on the boats which then light the fires during the opening ceremony. Although there were 16 torches, usually there are only one or two guest lighters who give their flame to the boats. I was honored this weekend to be one of the two people who actually lit the fires! It was an amazing experience. The atmosphere at a WaterFire lighting is so serene by also very powerful. I’m so happy I got to play such a central part in the evening.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to enjoy WaterFire for long. Shortly after the lighting ceremony, staff members headed over to the Brazier Society for dinner. It was delicious, except for the fact that I was unaware that some items contained tree nuts. I was driven to the hospital, which was thankfully close by, and after receiving emergency treatment, was fine by the end of the evening. I came back on site around 12pm to finish strike. We were all done by 2am, and then we all got to head home for some well-deserved rest!
There’s no way that I can say that I have a boring internship! There’s so much hands-on work to be done, and everyday we’re learning something new about working in events planning. We’re already going full-steam ahead towards our next full lighting on June 8th. That one will include celebrations around Portugal Day – dancers, musicians and torches, as well as Rhode Island’s “Gaspee Day” observances. This Friday is also a Basin lighting – a smaller-scale version of our full lightings. It’s definitely worth checking out. Until next time!
This summer, I’m the Special Events and Operations intern with WaterFire, Providence. Has anyone ever been to a WaterFire event? To be honest, I had never really heard of WaterFire until I started my LEEP project. But, I’m so excited that I did! WaterFire is an art installation; hundreds of braziers of fire are lit in the river that cuts through Providence, lighting up the night and fostering community engagement and revitalization. WateFire is so much more than that though, there’re music and performers that go on throughout the night. In addition, there are often groups that partner with WaterFire to host their own event at a WaterFire lighting. That’s where I come in. In addition to running the routine WaterFire operations, I’ll be working with the Director of Special Events to coordinate the multiple events that happen simultaneously with WaterFire.
I’m so excited for this opportunity, because this is an area of work that I’m looking into pursuing. I have always loved events management, and its a position I could definitely see myself in in the future. This fall, I’ll also be interning with Clark’s Office of Student Leadership and Programming. Working with student clubs and organizations to plan events is just going to add on to my experience this summer with WaterFire, and hopefully give me a great start into a career in events management and planning.
Although my internship doesn’t start until May 21st, my LEEP project experience is in full swing. I’m amazed at how fast things move here in the “real world.” Applying for internships, looking for housing, these things fly by. You have to make decisions quickly and succinctly. I’m in the process of signing a sub-lease for housing in Providence. The process is definitely exciting, but there are so many unknowns. I try to get all the answers I can, but I’m still going to be jumping in to a lot of “what-ifs” this summer. I hate to be so cliche, but I guess this is what they meant by getting ready to “LEEP!”