This year I was finally able to participate in the Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade. I’ve been dying be in it for the last couple of years, but we were always out of town.
“Cool,” you say. “So what is the Atlanta Beltline?”
To ‘splain a little more, about five years ago, the City of Atlanta took over a series of paths and old railway lines more-or-less encircling the city, and turned it into a paved walking/biking/skating trail and greenspace called the Atlanta Beltline.
It’s very practical as it provides a safe path to walk from my loft over to the little neighborhood of bars and restaurants in Inman Park.
It’s very fabulous in that it’s studded with outdoor art installations, musicians throwing down impromptu concerts, fortune tellers, trail-side community yoga classes, and a fun, vital horde of 20 through 50-somethings running, walking, skating and biking in a giant festive Mardis Gras of humanity nearly every evening (complete with a lovely assortment of dogs, btw: from tiny puppies in purses to giant Irish Wolfhounds towing kids on skateboards.)
“Er, well, that’s nice, but what about this Lantern Parade?” you continue.
The Lantern Parade is hosted the first Saturday after Labor Day each year by the Krewe of Grateful Gluttons, and kicks off a two month Art on the Beltline program that runs through November.
Almost 30,000 people showed up for this year’s parade. Lanterns of every style and color danced from wires and poles clutched by costumed revelers; who walked, jogged, skipped and danced to the accompanying “alternative” marching bands.
I went with a bunch of friends as the (unofficial) Krewe of the Sultry Sirens.
We chose an “under the sea” theme, complete with mermaids, a giant crab, a ambiguous character based on Pirates of the Caribbean, some jellyfish lanterns and lots of glowing neon and sparkles.
It was about a 2-mile route, following the Beltline from Krog Street Market off of Irwin Street all the way over to Piedmont Park in Midtown.
“And did you have fun,” you ask, smiling as if you already know the answer.
I had a stinkin’ blast.
Come on, Costumes! Costumes covered in twinkly lights! Day-glow Lanterns! Friends! Sparkly stuff! Music! Dancing! Drinks after at the Highlander!
We were well and truly lit.
Faith means living with uncertainty – feeling your way through life, letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark.
– Dan Millman