Rotary Days take over Woonsocket with four days of fun starting tonight WOONSOCKET – Three successful events have already passed, but the past two weekends were really just a taste of what the Rotary Club has in store for local residents. Starting tonight, “Rotary Days” will take over Woonsocket for four days of fun, entertainment and civic engagement with nine different events throughout the city’s downtown. The festivities, organized by the Woonsocket Rotary Club as part of Rotary International’s “Light Up” campaign, include free concerts, fairs, gatherings and even athletic events. The series started with “Touch-A-Truck” in North Smithfield during the first weekend in May with more than 3,000 people in attendance, and rocked forward with a tribute concert and citywide cleanup last weekend. Now there will be things to see and do at locations throughout the city on an almost continuous basis right up through Sunday night. “Everybody’s just so excited about this,” said WRC President Michael Dubois. “I still can’t believe we’re doing what we’re doing.” The project began as a suggestion from the club’s umbrella organization, Rotary International. Local club leaders were asked to hold a single-day event with the mission of introducing the organization to the community. Dubois had something a bit more extravagant in mind, and held a meeting with several community leaders from outside the club. He says he was “blown away” by the response. “Once I came out with the idea and I gathered everyone in a room, I thought four or five people might step forward,” Dubois said. “I don’t know what kind of a sell job I did, but the response was overwhelming.” The response, in fact, was so great that the club decided to spread the celebration out across three weekends in May. And make it annual. While many of the events coming up this weekend offer entertainment and a chance to gather for a little fun, Dubois said that Rotary Days are about more than just having a good time. Some offer education, or even ways to get involved and donate time to the community, like the citywide cleanup last weekend. While many of the events coming up this weekend offer entertainment and a chance to gather for a little fun, Dubois said that Rotary Days are about more than just having a good time. Some offer education, or even ways to get involved and donate time to the community, like the citywide cleanup last weekend. ”You’ve got to work before you can play,” said Dubois. “It’s not just all party and have fun.” In fact, he says, there’s a deeper message involved. “This is something that’s a private effort engaging citizens. I’m hoping that the people in Woonsocket can start to be proud of Woonsocket again,” he said. “It’s not the government’s job all the time. Let’s start having people take responsibility for their city.” With the help of volunteers from many different facets of city life, Dubois has organized a celebration that has drawn attention from the international club’s leadership. The Woonsocket club president got a standing ovation after speaking about the plan at a recent regional conference, and has been asked to travel to Brazil to discuss Woonsocket’s “Rotary Days” success story. “All eyes are on us,” he said. The key, he says, was to reach out to people outside of the club and engage the entire community. “Most of the chairs are not Rotarians and each chair has their own committees going,” Dubois said. “Next year it’s going to be even bigger and better.” Tonight, the focus is on celebrating the city’s vibrant nightlife, with the first of three events along Main Street organized by Matt Moylan, co-owner of Ciro’s Tavern on Cherry. “I’ve got a love for Main Street,” Moylan said when asked why he took on three different celebrations along the road. “It’s got history, it’s got architecture – but it’s been run down for so long. I have a vision for what it could be, and you have to start somewhere. Hopefully this is just the beginning.” Below is the full line-up of weekend fun. Thursday, May 14 ? Thursday Night Live! at Depot Square, a celebration of city nightlife with a free live blues show. The event will take place in the Chan’s parking lot from 6 to 11 p.m. on a large stage, while the Rotary Club sells beer and wine from a nearby booth. From 6 to 8 p.m., jazz and blues will enliven the city’s downtown as Jimmy “2 Suits” Capone takes the stage, joined by Italian guitarist and vocalist Roberto Morbioli, and legendary blues vocalist Toni Lynn Washington. Starting at 9 p.m., Woonsocket-based indie rock band The Stilts take the stage for a set of what they describe as “unapologetic, blues-driven rock music.” Guests are welcomed to bring their own chairs to sit and enjoy the show. Friday, May 15 Head to Market Square Friday night for two fun events right within the same block. ? Dancing Into Summer: From 4:30 to 9 p.m., the Woonsocket Prevention Coalition will sponsor a multicultural, multigenerational event at River Island, featuring belly dancers, break dancers, salsa dancers along with many different types of acts and entertainment. There will also be refreshments, and different exhibits on display. ? Thundermist Lights: From 6 to 11 p.m., Woonsocket Falls will be illuminated, and a series of high-powered multicolored spotlights will be aimed toward the sky. The surrounding area will be filled with artistry, foods, beer and wine stations and light music. Dubois said he is personally excited for Thundermist Lights out of the list of events, and that he worked with Moylan to develop the unique idea. “Matt and I had a vision of what that street could be, and we’re happy to expose that to the people of Woonsocket,” Dubois said. “We think that arts definitely has a place on Main Street. We need it to be as pleasing and welcoming as possible to anyone from outside.” The falls will be illuminated with LED lighting to create an eye-catching effect that Dubois says could be made permanent. “It’s fairly inexpensive and low-cost to operate, and it turns the dam into a piece of art,” he said. Artisans will have displays set up throughout the area with many offering live demonstrations. Saturday, May 16 ? Salute to Veterans: One of the grandest events of the weekend will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the city’s new Armed Forces Park by the parking lot to Rivers Edge Recreational Complex. The event will kick off with a small parade with the honor guard, a marching band and motorcycle clubs at 10 a.m., followed by a Native American Veterans blessing delivered by Eastern Medicine Singers. The USO-type show featuring bands, dancers and singers will start at 11 a.m. with the New Providence Big Band, a 19-piece act playing jazz and swing headed up by General Reginold Centracchio, former adjutant general of the state. Fanci Dancers of Cumberland, under the direction of Fran Golombiewski, will perform a number of acts throughout the day, as will The Company Bees, a tribute to the Andrews Sisters. Displays will showcase a museum exhibit of uniforms and artifacts as well as restored military vehicles. The nearby middle school will hold overflow parking and shuttle service will be offered. Richard Schatz, president of the United Veterans Council of Woonsocket, is chairperson of the event. ? Wicked Woonsocket Challenge: Walk up the bike path and into the nearby park between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to check out this athletic challenge, with several obstacles aimed at testing endurance and stamina. The obstacle course at Rivers Edge Recreational Complex will include several wall climbs, a bear crawl, a pull-up challenge, a sand bag carry, a tire flip and a slip and slide climb, where participants will get wet and soapy trying to mount a hill. A smaller version of popular obstacle courses like the Tough Mudder, this course is beginner-friendly but challenging enough for the experienced competitor, according to event organizer Mike Reynolds of R.I. Athletic Club. The event initially called for advance registration, but that plan has been changed to allow all visitors to compete and try out the different obstacles. Free group classes will also be offered with Zumba, Group Kick and Group Core classes starting at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Local gyms looking to host their own obstacle have also been invited to participate and can sign up by calling Reynolds at 401-766-7422. ? BVIBA Makers Fair and Festival: Meanwhile, at River Island Park, the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance will hold a “Makers Fair and Festival” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with booths by small, home-based companies, crafts and food vendors. ? Books are Wings: From 1 to 2 p.m., Harris Public Library, 303 Clinton St., will offer books for children, snacks, storytelling and more in coordination with the Books are Wings program. The event will offer free face-painting and crafts, including an opportunity to create a bookmark. The city classroom that creates the most bookmarks at the event will get a pizza party, compliments of the Rotary Club. Each child who attends this fun learning literacy event will also receive a free book. ? Day in the Garden: Just next door at the Grow Up Community Garden from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, an event dubbed “Rotary Day in the Garden” will include demonstrations and displays on planting with participation by local environmental groups. The event, which will focus on green sustainability, will include participation by Riverzedge Arts Project Green Team, Farm Fresh RI, URI School of Agriculture Outreach Program and the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association. Sunday, May 17 ? Cars, Bikes, Blues and Bar-B-Q: The final day of festivities will feature a charity bike run kicking off at 10:30 a.m., and from noon to 6 p.m., guests will be treated to a display of classic cars, motorcycles and live music. Pre-1972 models will line the road while vendors serve up summer food treats, beer, and wine. The event, sponsored by local car club The Creeps, will be held at the Main Street municipal lot across from the Woonsocket Call building and will include music by blues/funk band The Lexies and classic rock favorites Black Plain Road.