Luminata Lantern Walk

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I wanted to make a paper lantern for the Luminata Lantern Walk, but I didn’t. I ran out of time, I didn’t know how to do it, I forgot. I wanted to go, though. I’ve been looking forward to it, so I (and husband and our two dogs) went down to Green Lake planning to eat a burger and watch the procession pass by. I expected to see some fun, creative lanterns.

What I didn’t expect was for the people to be so welcoming and inclusive. The organizers had a few extra lanterns ready, plus they were extremely liberal about what counted as a “luminata.” We wound up putting a couple of glow-sticks on the dogs and joining the parade. (See what I mean? Gotta love it when they’re all about the fun. My dogs were pretty popular lanterns, too, judging by the pets they got.)

Several people had store bought paper lanterns. One woman had an umbrella with a flashlight duct taped to the handle — pointing upward — so the fabric glowed. Two guys had white plastic grocery bags holding battery-operated flashy Christmas lights. One techno-geek came in a t-shirt that lit up, sound-board style, when you talked to him. There was a giant with glowing wings. One man had a multi-hinged iron crook/staff live flame thingie that looked amazingly dramatic in the dark. Then there were the dozens of kids with glow sticks. And my dogs with their glow-stick collars. The rule seemed to be: Does it glow? Then you’re good.

But most people had actually had made real lanterns. And they were — every one of them — great.

Lots of people had round lanterns made from by painting a balloon with watered Elmer’s glue and pasting tissue paper on it. (I got the tip that you should spray the balloon with Pam so you can get it out easily after the glue has dried.) Then they hung it from a stick by a string. Tada.

Some were just outstanding or extra-fun: One guy had a giant eyeball, complete with optical nerve/vein squiggle. (It was the nerve that made it super special). Several people had amazing fish that looked like they were swimming through the dark. My husband said his favorite lanterns were the realistic salmon ones. One fellow had punched holes in a can and inserted Lite-Brite pegs. (That was my personal fave.) Two people carried actual brown-bag luminarias. Some people had mason jars with tissue paper glued on it. There was one especially nice bird (the holder floated it over my head for a while on the walk), there were at least two mouse heads, lots of stars, a few moons, a dragon, a few lanterns worn like hats, a donut, and a lot of freeform unrecognizable shapes. Lots of lanterns incorporated autumn leaves, and the candlelight brought out the colors nicely.

After twilight, we started walking around the lake. Green Lake doesn’t have a lot of streetlights, so there was a long procession of softly glowing colored lanterns — fish, spheres, random shapes, all through the black tree shadows and under the silver moonlight. I kept stepping off the path so we could look up and down the dark parade. It was lovely.

Next year, I am DEFINITELY going to have a special lantern. It was too much fun not to.

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