For best results, view this 360-degree video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/vWBGsMRd1Kc
SHARON, PA. — Thousands of people flowed into this small town on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border on the last Saturday of summer 2019 to experience a unique community campfire on and above the shimmering Shenago River.
Laughter echoed throughout the streets as people from both states bonded over street performers, art and craft vendors. Pets were popular. While many people opted to bring dogs, there was a boa constrictor and a parrot in the crowd as well.
Before dusk a Native American blessed the river from the front of a boat. Then the fires were lit one by one. Hundreds in the audience held up their phones to snap a picture of a river of flames. As night fell a performer stood on a bridge abutment in the center of the Shenango and captivated the audience by twirling flaming batons.
Waterfire is an event that originated in Providence, R.I., where it is still staged many times a year. It was franchised to Sharon in 2013. Waterfire Sharon has become an annual tradition — and the only Waterfire west of New England — for six years. It is staged in Sharon once in July and again in September.
360 Video: Night view of Waterfire
Night view of Waterfire Sharon with both the orb and floating fires alight.
The members of two families hold their torches aloft after lighting the Waterfire Sharon orb. From left are: Gayle and Ron Anderson, and Rick, Jen and Emma Barborack. Photo by Risell Ventura
A cyclist motors past Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon. This motor-themed restaurant is the original Quaker Steak and Lube. It was opened in 1974, and is still known for its wings and Bike Night. The restaurant anchors one end of the three block section of the Shenango River that hosts the Waterfire festivities. Photo by Teagan Staudenmeier
Dogs, snakes and birds of all kinds dominated the streets as Waterfire event goers explored the local vendors before the action began for the night. Photo by Jade Campos
While thousands of audience members were captivated by the fires at the event in Sharon, PA, one young boy was taken with a drone that flew overhead. Photo by Morayo Ogunbayo
A Waterfire vendor waits for customers at Happy Hour Kettle Corn. Photo by Jade Campos
After the waterfires were lit, all attention was drawn to a performer and his flaming batons. Photo by Teagan Staudenmeier
This project was reported by Teagan Staudenmeier, Morayo Ogunbayo, Jade Campos and Risell Ventura. Photo by Curt Chandler/Bellisario College of Communications