By Jennifer Solis
---- — NEWBURY — Library officials have won approval to use the Town Green next month for what they hope becomes an annual free concert and lantern parade.
The library is sponsoring the all-ages event on Saturday, May 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. Families are invited to bring picnic dinners and blankets to enjoy music by The Jitterbugs NYC as they wait for dusk to arrive. Then, everyone will light up homemade lanterns and parade around the Upper Green.
In the weeks leading up to the parade, lantern-making workshops will be held at the library and Plum Island Taxpayers & Associates Hall on Plum Island, organizers told the Board of Selectmen last week. They are also encouraging senior groups, Boy and Girl Scouts and anyone else interested to host their own lantern-making parties.
Lanterns will be made from recycled plastic bottles decorated with colorful tissue paper designs, with LED tea light candles or glow sticks illuminating the bottoms.
Library officials view the event — and the creativity leading up to it — as a way to bring the community together to celebrate “all the wonderful families and friends who make the library a rich and vibrant center for learning and growth.”
They hope to grow the event in the coming years by inviting more musical acts and local food and shopping vendors. They said little is required in terms of town resources and cleanup will be primarily handled by volunteers, with the hope of having the space completely cleaned and evacuated by 8 p.m.
Lantern parades, which can be traced culturally to the Japanese, Chinese and Dutch traditions, are often used to symbolize hope and enlightenment.
Newbury’s event is inspired by Boston’s Spontaneous Celebration’s annual Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade. Each October, the nonprofit community-building agency hosts a lantern festival in Jamaica Pond, a Jamaica Plains neighborhood that is part of the emerald necklace of Boston. According to the group’s website, about 4,000 people arrive at the pond at sunset each year with their homemade or store-bought lanterns. Children often show up in their Halloween costumes.
Organizers in Newbury are hoping to create the same atmosphere here.
“We hope you can see how a simple event like this can unite a community for an evening of music, magic and togetherness,” library officials told the selectmen.