EAST PROVIDENCE — Riverside quite literally takes center stage on the city's community calendar in the coming days and weeks, beginning this weekend with the inaugural Crescent Park Carousel …
EAST PROVIDENCE — Riverside quite literally takes center stage on the city's community calendar in the coming days and weeks, beginning this weekend with the inaugural Crescent Park Carousel Summerfest 2023.
The festival, which in a way is picking up where the Heritage Days event left off, is being tagged as "celebrating 128 years of magic and memories" of the historic Charles D. Looff Carousel. It takes place Thursday, July 20, through Sunday, July 23. Fanelli Amusements will provide carnival rides and a midway with food and games.
According to Ward 4 Councilor and Crescent Park Advisory Commission member Rick Lawson, in whose district the carousel is located, the new event is considered as both an homage to Heritage Days while offering up another opportunity to "highlight Riverside" and put a focus on the "treasured carousel."
“Summerfest is a great way to utilize Crescent Park. My goal is to help foster programming at the park from May through October to enhance the quality of life in East Providence," said Lawson. "The city has made upgrades to the park with the rebuilt seawall and we are in the process of building a concession building for clam cakes and chowder and a pad to put up an event tent. Crescent Park is the perfect setting for community events like Summerfest, The Looff (East Providence Arts Festival), Saturday Night Cruise Night, Movies in the Park and so much more.”
The administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva asked Carousel manager Tracy Johnson if it were feasible to put together some sort of festival to fill the void being left by the demise of Heritage Days, the four-decade-old event traditionally held around this time each summer at Pierce Memorial Stadium that was brought to an end with the conclusion of the 2022 event for a number of reasons.
Lawson was quick to point out Carousel Summerfest was not "replacing Heritage Days," but that it is intended to be "a celebration that gets all the Townies together." It's also a chance to inform residents who don't often have reason to make it down to Riverside about all of the upgrades made to the coastline at Larisa Park across the street.
"The showcase, too, is the park, all the improvements that have been made over the last several years. We still have a little more to do, but we're just looking to add more programing in the parks," Lawson added. "I'm looking into farmers markets. We've brought in 'Shakespeare in the Park,' worked with the Burbage group, they came down and performed. I'd like to see more of those kinds of things."
The schedule of Summerfest events includes live entertainment each day: Thursday at 6 p.m. David Tessier's All Star Stars, Friday at 6:30 p.m. Mojo Rising, Saturday at 1 p.m. Rebel Rebel and Sunday 1 p.m. the Catnip Junkies. In addition, the weekly Carousel Cruise Night with performance from Frank Azevedo is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. And on Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. is a vendor fair.
Tickets/wristbands for the carnival portion of Summerfest can be purchased at https://fanelliamusements.com/tickets.
The tickets/wristbands are good for the following hours: Thursday 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Wristband 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday 1 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Wristband 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Note: tickets and wristbands are only for the carnival and will not be accepted at the carousel.
The actual Looff Carousel ride, after years of repair, is now operational on a consistent, albeit, limited basis. The carousel is open on Saturday and Sundays, noon-6 p.m., including during Summerfest.
As for updates on the proposed building on a new concession stand, storage space and ice skating pad, that project is in the process of "refining the scope of what we were looking for," according to Lawson, who added he was told by the administration the city is "no longer pursuing an ice rink." He said he was told the equipment included in the deal for the rink from some six years ago has been deemed to outdated and inoperable.
"We just need a clam shack, some outdoor seating, hopefully covered so people can be protected from the sun, and a pad with electric to it so we can put up an event tent. Let's discuss the size of the tent, but let's go from there," Lawson said of his position on the matter.
He continued, "Let's monetize the park, but in a way that doesn't absorb a ton of city resources, like staff. We need to do stuff like that to offset the rise in the cost of doing business in the city. Plus there's history in it. Crescent Park, we had the Shore Dinner Hall. That's where you went for your clam cakes and chowder. It's part of Riverside and it's part of Crescent Park. That's why I want to work really hard to get that feel back."