A beacon of light in dark times

Gearing up for the Lismore Lantern Parade are creative director Jyllie Jackson and fire mistress Elly Bird (front) with the LightnUp Workshops core team (l-r) Cat Scobie, Karen Coyle, Bec Massey, Brett Haydon and Amber Gooley.

When hardly a day goes by without more news of the war in Iraq or some poor refugee being deported from our shores, Lismore Lantern Parade creative director Jyllie Jackson believes its vital that we have beacons of hope to promote peace and unity in the world.

Much more than simply a great show, Jyllie says the Lantern Parade is a community building exercise, bringing together people from all walks of life who put aside their political and cultural differences to help create a night that connects people and uplifts their spirits.

We like to call the parade a moment out of time when people come away from their television sets and walk together as one community in the gentle light of the lanterns, she said. Its an authentic, grassroots celebration something we as a community have created for one another. In these troubled times when there is so much pain and suffering in the world, we need to remind ourselves about what truly matters creativity, caring, compassion and community.

This years 12th annual Lismore Lantern Parade being held this Saturday, June 17 is dedicated to the memory of former parade production manager Chris Burgess, who died in January after a long battle with leukaemia.

Jyllie says his energy and ideas helped take the Lantern Parade to new heights, and he is sorely missed by the LightnUp crew.

He was a flamboyant, gentle and incredibly organised man who shared his skills so generously, Jyllie said. The way he conducted his life and the way he faced his death was inspirational. He lived every moment with compassion and love, and embodied the very values the parade aims to foster.

The Lismore Lantern Parade kicks off at 5.30pm in Magellan Street, when a carnival-like procession of glowing lanterns, illuminated sculptures, colourful masked characters, dancers and drummers wind their way through the heart of the CBD to Riverside Park.

Jyllie asks people to give a gold coin (or two or three) when they pass through the ceremonial gates into the park for the fiery finale, called MythLines: A Journey into Myth, which has been created in collaboration with local theatre maestro Ollie Heathwood.

MythLines will begin on the banks of the Wilsons River at 6.45pm, and will light the night sky with fiery outdoor theatre and fire art, giant illuminated puppets, water lanterns, and a breathtaking fireworks display.

More community groups and schools than ever before have come on board for this years parade, helping to create new feature lanterns that will delight young and old alike. Look out for Migaloo, a white humpback whale commissioned by the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre, the Brewster Street Preschool emerald dinosaur and a funky steam train created by local lobby group Trains On Our Tracks. There are many other spectacular new creations from community groups and the LighnUp crew, as well as all the old favourites from years gone by.

We have a bigger, brighter and better parade than ever and I have to thank local businesses, Jyllie said. Without their generosity, we simply wouldnt have a parade.

Jyllie is particularly excited about a visit from Nellie Har of Singapore-based arts organisation Bones & Flesh Arts. Nellie is flying to Australia specifically to see the parade and to talk about collaborating with the LightnUp Workshop to produce events in China and Malaysia.

Going international is a dream for us and its just an honour to be considered, Jyllie said. We hope we can put on a show that blows her socks off!

For info on other activities in conjunction with the Lantern Parade see page 2. For more details and a route map visit www.lismorelanternparade.com.au or see page 21 of this weeks Echo.

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