Stony Stratford Lantern Project 2019 – “Jungle Bells” – A Review

The Lantern-Makers turned out in full force on Saturday 30 November to take part in this year’s Lantern Parade, the stunning culmination of the month-long Stony Stratford Lantern Project which was another massive success with a sell-out 280 lanterns made!  Frame-making sessions were held at 4 local schools plus 2 full weekends of public workshops at York House Centre which saw the building packed to the rafters with people of all ages.  Everyone’s happy chatter made for a great community atmosphere and Bean in Stony provided a fabulous café to keep us all fed and watered with drinks, snacks and lunches.

This year’s theme was “Jungle Bells!” which inspired local families to create an AMAZING array of colourful jungle-related lanterns – lions and tigers, elephants, giraffes, snakes, cheeky monkeys, parrots, toucans and finches, warthogs, sloths, bugs of all kinds, butterflies, a flock of 4 flamingos, rainforest trees, bananas and even a pineapple!

The Lantern Volunteers excelled themselves again this year by creating another giant lantern for the back of the parade.  Our two parrots, ‘Kiki’ and ‘Carmelo’ wowed the crowds, sitting high on their treetop perches – the lantern took about 200 hours to make but we had loads of fun in the process.

The weather was perfect – cold and crisp – and the Lanterners were welcomed by live music from The Concrete Calves Woodwind Band who played a selection of Christmas and jungle-themed tunes for us.  The procession was led by Stony Stratford’s own Town Crier (Matt Ireland) and the Bernese Carting Dogs and we welcomed ‘The Noizy Band’ for the first time who provided us with fabulous Samba beats.  The streets were packed with thousands of amazed onlookers as we made our way along the High Street to the Market Square.  Everything went to plan, and we arrived in time to enjoy the festivities before the switching-on of the beautiful Christmas lights.  A magical event for everyone involved, creating Christmassy memories to treasure!

Many thanks, as always, to the unstoppable team of over 50 Lantern Volunteers who give hours of their time and a massive amount of energy to make this spectacular community arts project possible, to Bob & Sue Adams and their team of Stewards for keeping us all safe during the parade, to the Trustees and Staff at York House Centre and to the CLASS Committee for organising the Switch-On Fun Day.  Special thanks to our ‘Official Project Photographer’, Bob McDonald, for all his wonderful photographs which are included with this article and posted on our Facebook group and the York House Website.

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 2020?  Of course, we will!!  Make sure you pre-book your lanterns from 01/10/20.

Join our Facebook Group – Stony Stratford Lantern Project