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Peterborough lantern parade to invoke ‘the spirit of magic and delight’

  • Megan Millbauer, 11, of Peterborough works at the Peterborough Town Library last week to attach streamers to the lantern she is making for the lantern parade in Peterborough on Dec. 1. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • The Peterborough Town Library hosted a lantern making event last week in anticipation of the Children and the Arts' first ever lantern parade planned for Dec. 1. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Sarah Brace, 10, of Peterborough holds up the beginnings  her “Be Happy” lantern she plans to march with at the Children and the Arts Festival’s first ever lantern parade planned for Dec. 1. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • The Peterborough Town Library hosted a lantern making event last week in anticipation of the Children and the Arts' first ever lantern parade planned for Dec. 1. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • The Peterborough Town Library hosted a lantern making event last week in anticipation of the Children and the Arts' first ever lantern parade planned for Dec. 1. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Chloe Bosk, 6, of Sharon holds up the lantern she made for the Dec. 1 lantern parade in Peterborough. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Waterbury, Vermont’s 9th Annual River of Light Lantern Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1. Photo by Gordon Miller—

  • Waterbury, Vermont’s 9th Annual River of Light Lantern Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1. Photo by Gordon Miller—...

  • Waterbury, Vermont’s 9th Annual River of Light Lantern Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1. Photo by Gordon Miller—...

  • A teach the teacher lantern making event held in October for Peterborough area volunteers preparing for Dec. 1 Peterborough lantern parade. Courtesy Photo

  • Megan Millbauer, 11, of Peterborough works at the Peterborough Town Library last week to attach streamers to the lantern she is making for the lantern parade in Peterborough on Dec. 1. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, November 26, 2018 9:44AM

The creation of hundreds of lanterns to light the streets of Peterborough the first day of December is well underway, but will get a boost next week when Vermont-based international visual artist Gowri Savoor arrives in town to ramp up the production and prepare the community for the light parade.

“Those opportunities are rare these days, to stand with a stranger in the darkness, marching side-by-side, together bringing light into the darkness,” Savoor said. “But it’s also about honoring our own light inside of us and also honoring the light in others.”

Savoor was hired by the Children and the Arts Festival committee to teach lantern making and help create the community event.

The Peterborough lantern parade was dreamed up by festival committee members as an extension of the celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary, which it marked this past May. Festival organizers also say the lantern parade is a nod to its 2019 Children and the Arts Festival, planned to take place on May 18, dubbed “Let Your Light Shine.”

“This is a very special project for our 25th year,” said festival volunteer Tina Kriebel. “It’s really cool and it’s just really pretty.”

Kriebel, who was trained by Savoor in a teach-the-teacher workshop in October, ran a lantern making workshop for the community at the Peterborough Town Library last week. Participants at the workshop painted their lanterns and hung streamers from them. LED lights will be used at the parade to illuminate the lanterns.

Children and the Arts Festival volunteer Terry Reeves of Peterborough said the first 750 people to arrive for the parade will receive an LED light, which they can keep, to light their lantern. There are also 750 lantern poles, which parade participants can use to hoist up their lanterns.

“The ConVal Interact Club helped us make 750 handmade poles,” Kriebel said.

The poles are to be returned to organizers for possible future lantern parades, she said.

Savoor moved to Vermont 12 years ago from her home in England. As an artist she often takes on community projects that both encourage communities to create art and build bonds, she said.

“It’s very popular in England, community parades such as this, that happen at night time,” Savoor said, adding that walking in a family-friendly parade after dark with a crowd of friendly strangers in a closed of street with a crowd of spectators cheering the parade on is an exhilarating experience.

Inspired by the nighttime parades of her home country, she helped the community of Waterbury, Vermont, start their River of Light Lantern Parade nearly a decade ago. The 9th Annual River of Light Lantern Parade is also planned to take place Saturday, Dec. 1.

Since then Savoor has worked with more than 20 communities in New England to create lantern parades.

“This is something that I am very committed to. I am very interested in how this can shape a community and work towards its economic vitality,” Savoor said. “I think how lantern parades started was in China, several thousand years ago, virtually as a way to celebrate communities and bring them out into the darkness and show them a way through the dark.”

At the workshop in Peterborough last week 6-year-old Chloe Bosk of Sharon painted Santa Claus and a snowman on her lantern.

“We actually do our own in our woods. We kind of make a lantern and walk through our woods,” her mother Susan Bosk said. “So when we saw they were doing this we said, ‘Oh a whole group of people to do this with,’ so we’re really excited to do this and to join in.”

Sarah Brace, 10, of Peterborough painted the slogan “Be Happy” on her lantern.

Taralynn Jenkins of Peterborough made lanterns with her two daughters.

“It looks positivity beautiful. I cannot wait to do it. It’s a fun activity that we can do together. We’re just looking forward to it,’ she said.

The art making aspect of the parade is a huge element, Savoor said in a phone interview Wednesday.

“There is an element where each person participates in an art making experience. … The art making is a huge part of it and the participation in the parade is the second part of it,” Savoor said.

A lantern parade in itself is a magical experience, she said.

“It’s very magical. It transports you almost to a dream like state where it is really just a safe supportive environment,” Savoor said. “It’s such a different kind of experience than participating in a parade during the day. … It’s such a different atmosphere you are invoking the spirit of magic and delight. You have to be carrying the light to be able to be seeing where you are going. Each participant will be carrying a vessel of light that they made themselves.”

Savoor said she also hopes people will line the parade route and show their appreciation for the people in the parade.

“This is nothing new, but there is something so beautiful having these events in the darkest, coldest time of the year. Because our winters in New England can be so harsh and isolating for people and this is a very joyful and magical event.”

Savoor met with organizers and ConVal School District teachers for teach-the-teacher workshops in October. Since then, those trained by Savoor have been holding workshops here and there to slowly build up the lantern supply.

Savoor is returning to the community on Monday and will stay in town through the parade event, she said. She loves coordinating lantern parades because they are such a beautiful way to bring a community together through art making, she said.

“I’ll be working with the high school on Monday teaching them how to make larger scale lanterns,” she said. “I think I will be teaching at most of the schools in the district at some point in the week, which will be lovely.”

“The hope is that they are confident to be able to carry it on every year,” Savoor said, or every other year like the community of Montpelier, Vermont, does. “It does really involve the whole community. … For the most part communities will be able to take it forward in their own way, but I like to plant the seeds.”

The lantern parade is planned to take place as a prelude to Peterborough’s Christmas tree lighting event planned for Saturday, Dec. 1.

The free event starts with hot cocoa and cookies at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. The lantern parade is expected to start around 5:45 p.m. The parade route has yet to be worked out. Kriebel said the idea is to end at the tree in Putnam Park, which is set to be lit at 6:30 p.m. that night.

 

UPDATE FROM PARADE ORGANIZERS: The lantern parade on Saturday, Dec. 1, will assemble at People’s United Bank on 35 Main Street in Peterborough at 5:45 pm and proceed down Grove Street to Putnam Park for holiday festivities and the annual tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. People who would like to view the parade should assemble along Grove Street between Main Street and the park prior to 5:45 pm. See childrenandthearts.org for more information.