Letter: Lantern parade

Spontaneous Celebrations’ 33rd Annual Lantern Parade around Jamaica Pond on Oct. 23 was JP at its best. Young parents who were brought to the event as children a generation ago had the doubled joy of sharing the whole experience with their own children—lighting their lanterns, showing off their costumes, trying the apple cider and empanadas, breaking into dance, seeing their neighbors and then circling the pond. “This is what we do”, they told their children. This is our culture.

Not a culture of consumption, passive entertainment, luxury, or idleness. A culture of being, relating, doing, and making. We work together in the pursuit of happiness. Femke gave us the vision 33 years ago, and here she still was with Slug at her side, giving life to the far side of the pond so that the bearers of the light would make the full circle. Gerry strode up on the bandstand to welcome us to the pond that he rescued from neglect those many years ago, in emulation of Olmsted. Maak pulled everyone and everything together, humming old hippie tunes that softened the sharp edges of deadlines and setbacks.

Hundreds of big and little hands made and decorated the lanterns with their own sense of beauty. Tireless Josh finished the stuffing and the dough late Friday night, and Saturday morning he and Sophie cut, shaped and filled the empanadas, then put them in the oven for baby and me. Rudy, Loren and Josh washed, trimmed, ground and spun 2,400 pounds of apples into cider so Linda and Luis could mull it with spices and Kimberly and her helpers could pour it for the endless line of celebrants. Rosalba and her La Pinata family served the empanadas, burritos and sweets in the spirit of mi tabla es la tabla. Bill patiently gave every child who approached a chance to grind and press apples the old fashioned way, honoring the memory of John Chapman. Opposite People’s horns lifted us and soared, then took us back to Earth to tap our beats. When the wind finally blew soft the Courageous sailors raised lanterns on their oars and rowed across the Pond to square the circle.

America doesn’t make things anymore? Come to Spontaneous Celebrations’ Lantern Parade and say that.

Leroy Stoddard

Jamaica Plain resident

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