Riverhead had a trial run of Waterfires during this past summer's JumpstART! project downtown.
Riverhead had a trial run of WaterFires during this past summer’s JumpstART! project downtown.

One year after members of East End Arts and the Riverhead Business Improvement District first pitched the plan for a regular series of fire-inspired activities along the Peconic River, organizers of the concept of WaterFire are hoping Southampton Town will also participate in the upcoming project.

Lisa Lowenstein, a strategic advisor to WaterFire creator Barnaby Evans, pitched the project to the Southampton Town Board at a work session Dec. 4, asking that the Southampton hamlet of Riverside, across the Peconic River from downtown Riverhead, be included in the project.

“It would be the glue that creates collaborations between the two communities,” she said.

WaterFire, a regular series in which floating bonfires are lit along rivers, with corresponding music and performance art projects along the riverside, has had international success, with Providence, RI hosting one of the most active WaterFire projects in the world.

Ms. Lowenstein, who has spent years living in Italy, said the project is an attemt to create the sense of community in the central piazzas in Italy, where neighbors stroll the streets in the early evening, meeting their friends and family.

“This is something that’s missing from our contemporary lifestyle,” she said. “You can’t create community without people moving past one another.”

Ms. Lowenstein said her group is looking to create a non-profit organization to solicit donations for WaterFire, which could involve volunteers who participate as part of a job-training program.

She asked the town board to pass a resolution expressing support for the group as they begin to solicit grants and donations.

Southampton voted Dec. 9 to support the project.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

One thought on “WaterFire Could Become Cross-Town Event

  1. A friend, who lives near Providence, R.I., first told me about WaterFire after its inception in there in the late ’90’s, and by all accounts it has done wonders for the revitalization of that city. I have no doubt that this project could do the same for Riverhead – this could really help “take back the night” downtown in a really good, positive way – go for it, folks!

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