Sandy Springs lantern parade returns at earlier date

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Participants walk with their lanterns during the 2017 parade.

This spring, Sandy Springs will light up the night (and river) once again at its third annual Take it to the River Lantern Parade. The parade, previously held in June, has moved to a new date: April 21.

Visitors and residents alike will participate in the illumination of Morgan Falls Overlook Park and the Chattahoochee River as the area transforms into a wondrous sight featuring whimsical, beautifully lit lanterns.

An interactive, family friendly event, the parade is an opportunity for all ages to enjoy one of Sandy Springs’ most beautiful parks at night. Attendees are asked to gather at the Steel Canyon Golf Club starting at 7:30 p.m. The parade will step off at 8:30 p.m. and head down a path along Morgan Falls Road to Morgan Falls Overlook Park. As the parade arrives at the park at about 9:15 p.m., paddlers from High Country Outfitters will take to the river to animate the floating lanterns. In addition to the one-of-a-kind riverfront display, guests will also enjoy live performances and tasty treats.

This year, a special spinoff event will be added that includes a lantern workshop and a miniature parade for 50 to 100 patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The Children’s event will take place April 5 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be an opportunity for patients and their families to have a hand in creating these luminous pieces of art.

“The lantern parade is a glowing procession of light, music, color, and whimsy, which naturally inspires the imagination. Having seen the positive response from past attendees, the event organizers decided that hosting a special event for (Children’s) patients was the natural next step. We’re excited for these kids, who are working so hard on getting well, to have a chance to enjoy the creativity and magic that are part of this event,” Jennifer Cruce, director of Visit Sandy Springs, said in a news release.

A brand-new floating lantern, the long-legged coastal heron, which is sure to be a crowd favorite, will join the alligator, swans, frog, turtles and lilies as they light up the river. These lanterns will be the stars of the show during the river portion of the event to make the night even brighter.

“Taking our imaginations to the river is what I think about when dreaming up new feature lanterns for the parade. It is such fun to make the fantastical real for an evening. I think of the collection of river lanterns as a family of magical creatures that visit us one night a year in this one special place,” parade Producer Chantelle Rytter said in a news release.

Some of the unique creatures you’ll see at Morgan Falls include:

o Great blue herons: These large, solitary and stoic birds are a familiar sight at the river and a favorite of the parade.

o Dragonflies: Associated with joy, agility and lightness of being, these fanciful creatures are attributes worthy of magical enlargement.

o Sandy: The big iconic mama turtle, named for Sandy Springs, leads her baby lantern hatchlings to the river.

o Spotted Georgia kissy fish: Have you ever been floating in the water while in a Georgia lake, all relaxed and then felt fish lips touch you? Almost like a nibble. It’s just a kissy fish.

For those who need help crafting a lantern of their very own for the event, Rytter will host a series of lantern parade workshops, April 14 and April 15 at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church on Morgan Falls Dam Road. Registration opens March 17.

The cost of the workshops will cover all materials, instructions and tools for participants. More information, workshop costs and registration will be available online in mid-March: www.visitsandysprings.org/lanternparade.

To walk in the parade, please arrive at the Steel Canyon Golf Club April 21 prior to 8:30 p.m. Parking will be available at: the former WorldPay building (600 Morgan Falls Road, Suite 260), North Springs United Methodist Church (7770 Roswell Road) and Sandy Springs City Hall (7840 Roswell Road).

For more information about the parade and workshop registration, visit www.visitsandysprings.org/lanternparade. Share your parade march memories with us on Instagram using #TakeItToTheRiver and #LanternParade.

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