Saturday, September 18, 2010

Regina Lantern Fest

It was a strange parade!

Halloween? No, a little too early. Chinese Dragon Festival? No. No snake dragons and no drums. Japanese Bon Festival? No. No dancing and no drums.

The twilight veil crept in over the Wascana Lake in Regina, Saskatchewan one summer night in 2001. Autos arrived and unloaded people from everywhere. They flocked together along the lake and divided into two groups. The first group carried lanterns and formed a line. The second group joined the onlookers, away from the formed lines.

Verna, my Regina friend, her two children, and I waited for her husband, Ramon, who went to park the car. We waited under the well-lit park lights. The children needed to use the porta-potties, which were neatly set up along the edge of the park. Ramon soon joined us and we sat on the shore rocks, along with the other onlookers. This man-made lake has white sands on the beach.

The parade started moving as darkness fell. No music. No announcement. Silent, slow, but a steady parade. It moved clockwise along the lake. Lanterns waved between the trees. Across the lake, two boats sailed counterclockwise with three lanterns hung on each side of the boats as they circled the lake. As they sailed in front of us, I recognized that they were the dragon boats that I had seen the other day on the lake. Rowers paddled in silhouette without sounds.

The parade came to a stop when it made a half circle of the lake. The onlookers dispersed in twos and threes. Everyone remained silent.

What kind of parade is this? I went to the library before leaving Regina. After searching for half an hour, I found a microfilmed local paper dated May 2000. "Based on the success of last year's Lanterns on the Lake, we expect about 10,000 people to show up, enjoy the cool summer night and kick off the Art Festival in the fall. Kits of star-shaped lanterns are on sale for $5.00 each

Regina has more parks and greenspace per capita than any major city in Canada. Wascana Centre is a huge 9.3 square kilometre (2300 acre) park that is built around the shores of Wascana Lake, a man made lake in the heart of Regina. It is one of North America's largest urban parks, and has several attractions such as several walking and bicycle paths, the Saskatchewan Science Centre, an outdoor pool, a marina with boat rentals, the Saskatchewan Legislative building, and the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts.

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