As the Covid-19 Pandemic continued during 2021, there was much discussion between SS Business Association and the CLASS Committee as to if the Switch-On Fun Day should go ahead and, if so, what we could do to make it as safe as possible for the volunteers and the people coming along to enjoy the day. Compromises were made and we agreed that both the Switch-On Day and Lantern Project would go ahead but there would be no Lantern Parade, as it draws in such large crowds of spectators.
The Lantern Volunteers decided to deliver a ‘hybrid’ version of the project, with a limited number of ‘make at home’ lantern kits being sold online to include all the materials and instructions needed to make a Father Christmas lantern for this year’s theme of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town!”. The kits sold out quickly and were collected via sessions at York House, one of which took place during a ‘mini hurricane’ which saw branches falling from trees and damage to the building!
The drama didn’t stop there, as Storm Arwen was forecast to hit the town on Switch-On Day (Saturday 27 November). The fairground rides, stalls and dancing went ahead despite the dreadful weather, but the CLASS Committee were forced to think on their feet and change the live music and switch-on proceedings planned for the Market Square. In the end, a pleasingly large crowd braved the high winds and amassed for the switch-on, some people proudly displaying their lanterns, and Stony Radio saved the day by leading a live broadcast of the countdown via a speaker stuck out of a window at The Crown. The lights came on at 5pm and looked wonderful with the Christmas tree back in place, and The AcaBellas followed this up by leading the community carol singing. Not a day any of us will forget in a hurry!
Huge thanks to all the Lantern Volunteers who organised and ran the project this year for being innovative, hardworking and flexible – but mostly for being good humoured in the face of adversity. We usually make a giant lantern for the back of the Lantern Parade, but there was no need for that again this year. Instead, we set to work making a ‘Rainbow of Father Christmases’ for the switch-on and thoroughly enjoyed soaking up the fantastic atmosphere in the Market Square.
Finally, grateful thanks to our funders – Stony Stratford Town Council, Stony Stratford Business Association and the York House Local Giving Fund – for their continued financial support, helping us to keep the project affordable for all.
Will we back to ‘normal’ in 2022? Who knows…?
Join our Facebook Group – Stony Stratford Lantern Project – for the latest project news.
Switch-On Day is tomorrow (Saturday 27 November)!!
As the Covid-19 Pandemic took hold during 2020, SS Business Association and the CLASS Committee took the sensible decision to cancel Switch-On Day. So, here at Lanterns HQ, we were left with some difficult decisions to make – what should we do for this year’s Lantern Project?
The Lantern Volunteers were unanimous that we would like to do SOMETHING, so we dusted off our thinking caps and came up with ‘Christmas at Home’ – the first (and hopefully the last) Lockdown Lantern Project! We joined forces with the Stony Community Advent Calendar Project to offer an artistic opportunity for families to light up their homes in Stony Stratford, Galley Hill and Fullers Slade for the whole of the Christmas period. We sold Lantern Kits to make a lantern or window scene at home and allocated an ‘Advent Number’ to every street. Over 400 kits were sold and prepared in a matter of weeks and we even managed to rearrange the collection days to distribute them before Lockdown 2.0 commenced.
The theme of “Christmas at Home” inspired local families to create an AMAZING array of colourful lanterns and window displays all around the town, adding in a rainbow motif to thank all the wonderful Key Workers and NHS Staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
Huge thanks to all the Lantern Volunteers who organised and ran the project this year for being innovative, hardworking and flexible – but mostly for being good humoured in the face of adversity. We did it, and we did it with smiles (and masks) on our faces!
Instead of a Lantern Parade, we are making a special video to showcase this year’s amazing creations – Christmassy memories to treasure! The link to view the finished video will be posted on this page when it’s ready.
The Lantern Volunteers usually make a giant lantern for the back of the Lantern Parade, but there was no need for that this year. Undaunted, we set to work decorating the upper floor windows at York House Centre to create a stunning centre-piece for the project. The windows show ‘At Home’ scenes for how we imagine Christrmas at York House would have been when it was originally a family home, with the rainbow and heart floating above as symbols of thanks and hope.
We hope you enjoy spotting all the ‘At Home’ creations as you walk around the town for your ‘daily exercise’ throughout December, thanks to all the families who joined in to make our special little town shine during these difficult times.
Finally, grateful thanks to our funders – Stony Stratford Town Council, Stony Stratford Business Association, Milton Keynes Community Foundation and the York House Local Giving Fund – for their continued financial support, helping us to keep the project affordable for all.
Shall we do it all again in 2021? Of course we will, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that ‘normal service’ will resume…
Due to the rapidly approaching National Lockdown, we have had to change the arrangements for the collection of the kits at short notice. We emailed everyone who purchased a kit and advertised on all the local Facebook groups and pages and managed to run collection sessions on Sunday 01 November and Monday 02 November.
The final collection sessions are TODAY (Tuesday 03 November) from the car park at York House Centre, 3.15pm til 4.15pm and 6pm til 8pm. We would appreciate if only one person per family could come along to collect (although we know that’s not always possible). You will need to wear a face covering and respect the 2m social distancing rule – please bring appropriate outdoor clothing/umbrella if the weather is not good.
It is important that you don’t turn up at York House outside these hours as the building is not staffed at the moment.
The 2020 Lantern Kits are now SOLD OUT but you can still join in with the Stony Community Advent Calendar project in the normal way.
This year we are teaming up with the Stony Stratford Community Advent Calendar to give your family an ‘at home’ community arts project to enjoy, and together we’ll light up homes all over Stony, Galley Hill, Fullers Slade (and beyond) to bring some Christmas cheer after this difficult year.
The theme is ‘Christmas at Home’, so use your lantern kit/s to create a lantern, a window display – or both! Kits will include ideas, full instructions, materials and glue – you’ll need to provide cutters and battery operated lights (if making a lantern). We will be selling rolls of good quality masking tape at the collection sessions at £1.00 per roll. Your kit will also include a rainbow motif for you to incorporate into your lantern/window display as a thank you to all our dedicated NHS and keyworkers.
We’d like ALL lanterns/window displays to be lit by 7pm on Tuesday 01 December, we’ll be making a video that evening to showcase all your creations together. Please leave your display lit for the whole of December to give everyone a chance to walk round and see them.
IMPORTANT – when you’ve paid for your lantern kit/s, please forward your WeGotTickets booking confirmation e-mail to email@example.com with your e-mail address, home address and a contact telephone number.
Please don’t try and contact the York House Office directly as all project administration is being done by the Lantern Volunteers this year.
Join our Facebook Group (Stony Stratford Lantern Project) to find out which advent number has been allocated to your street or court, and you can incorporate that into your lantern/display as well.
Don’t worry if you live outside of Stony Stratford, you can still join in – you’ll need to send us a PM via the Facebook group to let us know your street/village.
Anyone can make a lantern (although young children will need help). Our lanterns are made from willow withies and masking tape which is then covered with colourful tissue paper and PVA glue and lit from within by a candle or fairy lights.
Every year we choose a theme for the project e.g. Cartoon Christmas, Christmas Under the Sea, Santa’s Workshop. You can join in with the theme or just do your own thing – designs are limited only by your imaginations!
Public Lantern Making Sessions are open to all and are held over 2 weekends at York House Centre. We also run frame-making sessions at local schools which are for pupils and their parents/carers only.
Plenty of Lantern Volunteers will be on-hand at the sessions to help you make your lantern and to check they are all safe ready for the Lantern Procession.
On Switch-On Day we all meet at York House to collect our lanterns. As darkness falls, the lanterns are lit, and the procession makes its way through the crowd-lined streets of Stony Stratford to the Market Square in time for the switching-on of the Christmas lights…magical!
We strongly advise that you pre-book your lantern/s as the project sells out every year – see this year’s project page for session dates and ticket details.
All lanterns are checked thoroughly by our Volunteers to ensure they are safe to join in with the Procession which is well supervised by experienced Stewards.
Photographs by Bob McDonald.
A BIG thank you to all the Lantern Volunteers; to the Trustees & Staff at York House Centre and to our funders – Stony Stratford Town Council, Stony Stratford Business Association, Milton Keynes Community Foundation and the York House Local Giving Fund.