Lantern Festival cancelled this year

The Forest Hills Cemetery (FHC) announced it will not hold its annual Lantern Festival this summer, which it has held for the last 15 years.

FHC Assistant Treasurer Janice Stetz told the Gazette that the Cemetery is “reviewing procedures and logistics” and that the festival “may come back next year.”

Stetz said she did not know when a decision about next year’s festival would be made.

The Lantern Festival was previously organized by the Forest Hills Educational Trust (FHET). The cemetery and FHET are separate organizations with separate boards of directors. FHET previously functioned like a “friends” group of the cemetery, fundraising and organizing programming that the cemetery had to approve.

The announcement was posted on FHET’s website.

FHET announced in December 2010 that all programming would be suspended indefinitely, a move that coincided with the last executive director, Cecily Miller, leaving. The rest of the staff was let go at the same time. FHET Programs Director Jonathan Clark returned in 2011, but left about a year ago to pursue a graduate degree outside the state, a FHC employee told the Gazette.

According to Stetz, the Trust currently has a few part-time employees “taking care of walking tours,” but no full-time employees. Walking tours are currently the only programming expected in the cemetery this summer, she added.

Although the Lantern Festival was inspired by Japanese Buddhist tradition, it included many multicultural events throughout the day. A key part of the ritual was sending messages to dead loved ones, written on paper lanterns that were floated on Lake Hibiscus at sunset.

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