Peterborough Festival of Light Lantern Parade returns this Saturday

  • Hundreds flocked to downtown Peterborough last December for the town’s first-ever Festival of Light Lantern Parade.Photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Peterborough’s annual Christmas tree lighting last year with Santa Claus. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce

  • The Children and the Arts Festival Committee's first Festival of Light Lantern Parade in downtown Peterborough last year. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce

  • The Children and the Arts Festival Committee's first Festival of Light Lantern Parade in downtown Peterborough drew more than 1,000 people and more than 800 lanterns to the annual Christmas tree lighting events Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce

  • The Children and the Arts Festival Committee's first Festival of Light Lantern Parade in downtown Peterborough drew more than 1,000 people and more than 800 lanterns to the annual Christmas tree lighting events Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce

  • The Children and the Arts Festival Committee's first Festival of Light Lantern Parade in downtown Peterborough drew more than 1,000 people and more than 800 lanterns to the annual Christmas tree lighting events Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce

  • This winter’s Lantern Parade poster was designed by ConVal senior Rhett Landers. “Each year the Children and the Arts Festival Committee works with the ConVal High School graphic artsstudents to design posters for our events,” Tina Kriebel, Children and the Arts Committee Member said in a press release. “It’s a wonderful collaboration and we look forward to working with the students.” Courtesy Photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/2/2019 8:42:03 PM

Excitement is building for the Children and the Arts Festival encore Festival of Light Lantern Parade, which is returning to downtown Peterborough Saturday, Dec. 7, with a likely greater attendance this year.

“I think people are really excited,” festival committee member Tina Kriebel said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people that regret not coming out on that cold night last year and a lot of people that came and loved it.”

The first lantern parade last December was held to mark the Children and the Arts Day Festival’s 25 years of its free May children’s festival.

“Last year we did it as a special community project because we had hit our 25th festival in the spring so we wanted to do something special to celebrate,” Kriebel said.

In 2018, organizers estimated about 800 lanterns were made at community and school events in preparation for the parade. People also made lanterns at home or bought them. In the end, more than 1,000 people filled Grove Street marching in the town’s first lantern parade, making it a beautiful and magical event, according to Terry Reeves, who along with Jeannie Connolly are founding volunteers of the Children and the Arts Day Festival and now co-chairs of the Lantern Parade committee.

“It was a wonderful thing. It was so magical. We said, ‘We have to do this again,’” Reeves said.

“We were planning on it being a one and done, but we got so much community support and encouragement to do it again,” Kriebel said. “We’re hoping we’re going to see a lot of people out there.”

Parade organizers began lantern-making workshops this fall at the Peterborough Town Library and at ConVal School District schools in preparation for the second wintertime night parade. Hundreds of lanterns have been made so far this year at these sessions.

“The theme is ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ so you’ll see a lot of stars out there,” Reeves said.

Volunteers have also been hard at work making sure there will be enough battery-powered lights and poles for each lantern, whether the lantern was made this year or last, made at a workshop, at home or purchased.

This year the festival committee was able to hold at least one lantern-making event at each school in the district either as part of the school day or as part of an extracurricular activity, Kriebel said.

“It’s nice for us to be as district-wide as we can and to give those kids experiences in classrooms,” Kriebel said. “Every school had lantern making opportunities. I’m really grateful for Terry and Jeannie for setting up all of the workshops. It’s an amazing commitment to just give back to the community and do that.”

“We never know how many to expect. It depends on the weather and stuff like that, but if people have made a lantern, they can come, they will get a light and a pole,” Reeves said.

“We loaded several hundred lanterns with lights in 45 minutes last year,” Kriebel said and they plan to do that again. “It’s a pretty big logistics effort.”

Children and the Arts Day Festival Committee rely on donations and volunteers to keep the lantern-making, any supplies and the parade free.

“It’s really important to be inclusive, especially this time of year,” Kriebel said. “This is just for anyone that just wants to be part of this big community event.”

While for Kriebel the best part and “the blessing” of the event is working with the children making the lanterns, there is something undeniably magical about the Lantern Parade, she said.

“There’s something special, I think for kids to be out after dark,” Kriebel said. “One of the great things about May is that people come with their group – with their school, with their dance group – they come as a group. But with the lantern parade, everybody was just one group, one big group of lights and it was nice. I think that surprised me a little bit because I didn’t expect it, but felt really different, which I thought was really cool.”

Certainly, most cultures and religions around the world have long held winter month traditions and holidays centered around the light winning out over the darkness and the community gathering around that light, which the Lantern Parade taps into.

“The solstice is about the beginning of the coming of the light and we’re needing a little light,” Reeves said. “I’m thinking we’re needing a lot of light this time of year. I think it’s good to remember we live in a community and to come together and be joyful and I’m all for more light in the world.”

This year the parade has been organized as part of a collaborative effort called Peterborough’s Hometown Holiday Weekend, which includes the annual Community Messiah Festival at 4 p.m. at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church, Cookies and Cocoa from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Monadnock Center, the Lantern Parade at 5:45 p.m. with the town Christmas tree lighting in Putnam Park at the conclusion of the parade. The Peterborough Recreation Department’s 6th Annual Holiday Trees at the Peterborough Community Center Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Festival of Light Lantern Parade will start again in the People’s United Bank parking lot on Main Street and travel down Grove Street to Putnam Park at which time the town Christmas tree will be lit. The ConVal High School drumline and the Folk Soul band will be providing music for the parade this year. There will also be carolers and a surprise in the park, Reeves said.

“It will be short, sweet and magical,” Reeves said.

Right now there are no plans to make the Lantern Parade an annual event. But Reeves said a third Lantern Parade in another December is entirely possible.

“Who knows. We were really jazzed for the last one and had a meeting right after and said, ‘Let’s do it again.’ It’s a really cool thing and we have a really good committee,” Reeves said.

Volunteers are needed to help before and after the event and to bake items for the Cookies and Cocoa event at the Monadnock Center, Kriebel said.

The Monadnock Center gave away more than a thousand cookies last year, “more than they have ever had before and I’m expecting this year to be bigger,” Kriebel said.

You can sign up to volunteer at the Children and the Arts Festival Facebook page.


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