The Lantern Parade's Jyllie Jackson with The  Queen of Hearts.
The Lantern Parade's Jyllie Jackson with The Queen of Hearts. Sophie Moeller

Lantern Parade holds special significance as the city marches forward from flood

JYLLIE Jackson has always been one for signs and symbols. So it is no coincidence of all her damaged lanterns, the Queen of Hearts came out of the flood completely unscathed.

"She just floated right to the top. We found her on top of a pallet. There was not one speck of dirt on her white gloves and pinny,” Jyllie said.

And the irony that this lantern's symbol has come to represent the city's rise above the flood, is not lost on her.

"Hearts have now become very much part of the flood theme for this year's parade.”

And so have unicorns.

Up to 90% of Jyllie's lanterns were damaged when the water took over the lantern parade's former LightnUp Inc., headquarters, below Lismore Base, but having arrived in 1973 Jyllie knew what might happen. The files and computers were saved and most of the lanterns "triaged” into the safest places possible the lanterns "triaged” into the safest places possible.

BEACON OF LIGHT: Jyllie Jackson at the new home of Lantern Parade, LightnUp Inc., in Keen St, Lismore.
BEACON OF LIGHT: Jyllie Jackson at the new home of Lantern Parade, LightnUp Inc., in Keen St, Lismore. Sophie Moeller

"The last thing I took the night of the evacuation (after I turned off the electricity) were my two beautiful unicorns. I wasn't going to let happen to them what happened to Noah's unicorns*.

Since the flood Jyllie has been moving to new premises in Keen St where she now houses her rainbow-horned friends. They "remain warm and dry; we see them as symbols”.

The Lantern Parade takes place on June 24 and Jyllie's team still have more than 40 lanterns to mend. So at this stage she is calling on all reliable volunteers. Thankfully, once the lantern's frame is dried out it can be stripped, re-lighted, re-muslined, papered and painted.

She has been working closely with Michael Coleman of Eureka Public School on the finale, which "is going to be gorgeous”.

The SES is to play a part and Pegasus: the winged horse will lead the march, remaining damaged in one patch.

In the days after the flood Jyllie says she didn't allow herself to "cry in front of the volunteers”.

"That wouldn't have helped; I wasn't going to set everybody off.”

But she is appealing to the public to keep her "stress levels” in check by going out now to buy tickets early for the finale at Oakes Oval.

"We may be bit fragile and beaten but come out and carry a lantern to celebrate our resilient heart - no matter what the weather.”

* The unicorns did not make it onto Noah's Arc because they were too busy laughing and playing to give heed to his warning about the encroaching flood.


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