WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A memorial park is opening today at the site of the tragic Station nightclub fire. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the dedication ceremony for the permanent memorial to the 100 victims. The town of West Warwick has announced plans to shut down streets, while parking and shuttles will be available to those attending.
One hundred people lost their lives on the night of Feb. 20, 2003, and 200 were injured. A place to reflect on the site and remember those lost in the tragedy has been years in the making.
“You don’t really get over it. You learn how to adjust,” said Gina Russo, president of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation.
“I hope that people will walk away from here Sunday feeling a little bit better,” she added. “I can’t change what happened. I can’t change the fire, I can’t bring their loved one back, but I hope that this gives them a little bit of peace.”
Sunday’s ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.
Cowesett Avenue between Narragansett Avenue and Coit Avenue will be closed from noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday, West Warwick police said Thursday. Vehicles will be directed north on those streets.
Eastbound through traffic on Cowesett will be diverted north onto Church Street and Rt. 117; only local traffic will be allowed past.
For event setup, Kulas Road, which intersects with Cowesett next to the memorial site, will be closed starting on Saturday and will not reopen until late Sunday evening.
A crowd is anticipated to attend, and parking in the neighborhood is extremely limited. Therefore, attendees are being asked to park at the Met Life Insurance Company complex on Quaker Lane/Rt. 2.
Message boards will direct cars to the parking area, and the Station Memorial Committee has arranged for shuttle buses to the site.
Police said a very limited number of handicapped parking spots will be available on Coit Avenue across from the Cowesett Inn. Drivers needing to park there will have to show a handicapped placard and “proof that the person to whom the placard is assigned is present in the vehicle,” West Warwick police said in a statement.
Eyewitness News Anchor Danielle North spoke to several survivors of the fire, in addition to local law enforcement about Sunday’s ceremony.