“I was waiting for that,” the fourth-grader at Case Avenue Elementary School said, sounding a little skeptical as if she doubted the authenticity of the accent she had just heard.
“Are either of you from either Germany or Australia?” Taylor wanted to know.
Mike Allenbaugh, a junior, grinned as he admitted that both he and Payton, a senior, are students at Sharon High School helping visitors to their booth learn something about other countries.
Most of the visitors were from Mercer County and the Mahoning and Shenango Valley areas but it was easy to find families who had come from Clarion, New Castle and elsewhere to enjoy the spectacle.
“We thought the weather for the first one was perfect but today was the same kind of sunny day,” said Alice Merrill who brought her grandchildren with her from Cleveland. “I don’t know if they’ll be as lucky next time but we’ll probably come back if the weather’s good.”
After sunset, the mood changed as thousands crowded the State Street bridge and riverbanks for the dramatic ritual that gives WaterFire its name.
Against a cobalt-blue dusk sky, torchbearers lined the center of the bridge, while below in the near darkness boats with black-attired crews lit each of the log-filled metal braziers floating in the Shenango River from Silver Street to below Connelly Boulevard.
The crews stoked them periodically until the embers – and the event itself – fickered out about midnight.
The final of this inaugural year’s WaterFire days will be Oct. 12.