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Get Ready for Lakewood’s Annual Lantern Lighting Celebration!

Photo by Bre McGee.

On each evening of Lakewood’s annual Lantern Lighting Celebration, families and friends cherish the moment when the sun sets and the lanterns drift across serene Jo Pond. As the sky turns to watercolor oranges and pinks, we read the names of missed loved ones to the stirring sound of bagpipes. This moment of serenity, celebration and commemoration is such a powerful way to honor those who have passed away that many of our guests plan their lantern decorations well in advance.  

If you’d like some ideas on decorating your lantern, here are some tips from people who attend the event year after year.  

Tell A Story
With four large panels of space (dimensions below), there’s plenty of room to write out a favorite story or memory. One family wrote about how their son loved working in fashion, using glitter pens to bring color and sparkle to his story. Another family wrote out several favorite jokes that their dad told over and over again throughout his lifetime. 

Photo by Bre McGee for Uncommon Collaborative.

Write a Message of Love
Many of us would love the opportunity to have just one more conversation with a loved one. Last year a young boy wrote a letter to his grandfather, telling him about the new dog that the family had adopted. The boy’s mom explained, “My son and my dad shared a love of animals, so my son was glad to tell Grandpa about his new pet.”

Quote a Song or a Poem 
A few years ago, a wife brought along the words to a song that she and her husband first danced to when they were dating. “It’s our love letter to each other,” she said. Poems are also popular. A group of four siblings each decorated a panel with quotes from poems that their sister loved. 

Say it with Pictures 
Photos and drawings are some of the most popular and colorful ways to decorate lanterns. Young children often draw pictures using vibrant, multicolored pens to create vivid, heartfelt messages. Families love decorating with photos because you can display so many joyful memories from throughout a person’s life. Please remember to only bring copies of photos as lanterns are not returned at the end of the evening.  

At Lantern Lighting we provide:

  • A four-panel lantern sleeve 
  • Wood lantern base 
  • LED candle 
  • Multicolor array of pens 
  • Stickers 
  • Glue pens 

What to bring from home: 

  • Pictures (copies only; do not bring originals, please)
  • Song lyrics 
  • Poems 
  • Pre-made art 
  • A flower, leaf, feather or other light nature object 

When you arrive at Lantern Lighting, you’ll receive your four-panel lantern paper. This sheer tracing paper is thick enough to draw on and attach pictures to, but thin enough for light to shine through. The paper is twelve inches tall and a little more than seven inches wide. You also receive a wood base and an LED candle. Amanda Luke, Community Programs Manger, suggests folding the paper before you decorate so you can clearly see each of the four panels. 

A Highlight of the Year 

“I hear from so many of our attendees that the act of creating something beautiful to honor family and friends they have lost, feels therapeutic,” Amanda explains. “Everyone also enjoys the beauty of the lanterns billowing as they sail across the pond. That’s why Lakewood’s Lantern Lighting Celebration is a highlight of the year for so many.” 

Reserve your lantern for the Lantern Lighting Celebration on September 22 and 23. 

Read about the Gratz family and why Lantern Lighting is a treasured annual event for them

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