The lanterns are cast upon Knights Pond — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikSponsored by SoBo Central, a volunteer group promoting community unity in South Berwick, Lanternfest is quickly becoming a summer regional highlight. Once again, Lanternfest took place at the Spring Hill Restaurant, located at 117 Pond Road in South Berwick, just an hour outside of Portland.
The 2012 Lanternfest on August 22 (it will always take place during the third week in August, say event organizers), only the second annual presentation of this event, saw double the participation of area families from last year. It was also bigger and better than the original event in many ways.
The event itself is loosely based on ancient Chinese festivals marking the twilight of the summer season.
A life-size puppet greets Lanternfest guests — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikAs with the inaugural Lanternfest, the event started with children painting handmade paper lanterns while a local band entertained participants. Snacks and barbecue proved popular with the crowd while local nonprofit groups, such as the Friends of the South Berwick Library, sold baked goods and other goodies for dessert. Meanwhile, a life-size puppet, perched on the outside deck of the Spring Hill Restaurant, hinted at the festivities ahead.
As sunset approached, a large heron puppet was introduced into the crowd. Manipulating the puppet with control sticks, volunteers moved its wispy wings up and down to the delight of adults and children alike.
Preparing special lanterns for flight — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikWith darkness fast approaching, youngsters and their parents followed the heron puppet in a winding parade route along Spring Hill’s hillside property. Eventually, the marchers halted at Knights Pond where they watched volunteers launch special glowing lanterns upon the pond’s gentle waters.
New this year, was a whirling spire sculpture fire wheel which proved to be a real crowd-pleaser. At the same time, biodegradable lanterns launched into the air via special fuel cells added to the evening’s ethereal glow.
With event organizers expecting to add even more to next year’s festivities, South Berwick’s Lanternfest will undoubtedly become an even greater “must see” summer event along the Southern Maine seacoast.