It is the culmination of weeks of lantern-making workshops, run by Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre’s Bridgette Murphy and Jim Richards, which have brought the community together. This year’s 4.5-metre rat is the penultimate full-scale lantern – next year’s Ox will complete REACT’s set of 12 centrepiece Chinese zodiac lanterns.
Hundreds of community-made lanterns are expected at the Lantern Parade on Saturday 29 February. Those bringing their own lanterns should note a couple of safety points – no candles, and no flying lanterns.
Suggestions for lighting lanterns include Two Dollar Shop torches, bike torches and solar string lights. “Last year some people used their phones to light them up,” says Richards.
Palmerston North City Council International Relations Manager Toni Grace says this year’s parade is an opportunity to show support and solidarity to Palmerston North’s friends in China, including sister cities Guiyang and Kunshan, in the wake of the Covid-2019 outbreak. The community can show kindness towards local people who may have been affected by the virus response and are worried about friends and family overseas. Youth volunteers from the Palmy Global Ambassadors have been encouraging the making of lanterns with messages of support.
Mayor Grant Smith has sent letters of solidarity to the Mayors of Guiyang and Kunshan. The Mayor commends the determination of the Chinese people in response to the difficult situation. “I would like to say kia kaha to you and all of the people in [your city] as you continue to navigate this difficult time.”
The parade will have live music and food available from 7pm, with the parade itself from 8.30pm. Other events on the first day of the Festival of Cultures include Ethkick at Central Energy Trust Arena, and a Carrom Making Workshop at the Library Makerspace. There are activities planned for every day of the festival week, with highlight events including the Holi Festival of Colours on Friday 6 March and the World Fair Day in The Square on Saturday 7 March.