Parade lights up community

SET TO SHINE: Festival director Jyllie Jackson with a scale model of the grand finale piece in construction for this year’s lantern parade.
SET TO SHINE: Festival director Jyllie Jackson with a scale model of the grand finale piece in construction for this year’s lantern parade. Marc Stapelberg

REGARDLESS of the Lantern Parade's 20-year milestone, winter solstice is a time to celebrate the end of the darkest days and look forward to brighter times.

As the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half on Saturday, the sun's rebirth will be celebrated with particular poignancy on its 20th birthday.

Its 19th year was plagued with uncertainty after LightnUp Inc was handed a notice of eviction from its Orion St shed, which had housed the parade's paper creatures for 12 years.

But on Valentine's Day the parade was handed a lifeline. It exchanged contracts on a new home on Keen St that will ensure the ongoing security of our city's signature event.

Like solstice, from that point, things could only get lighter, explained festival director Jyllie Jackson.

The new premises will double as a community art space, enabling young people to learn new skills while doing purposeful work.

For lantern parade volunteer Sara Tinning, the lanterns shine light on Lismore 365 days a year.

"Lismore is a community-based town and this parade is a big part of that.

"This parade is special because it celebrates the solstice and new beginnings.

"We've worked hard to ensure that there is a future for our young folk. This (festival) needs to go on."

Ms Tinning said the parade would give work and purpose for a younger, disenfranchised generation.

"Some of them will be on the streets, some of them will have mental health issues," she said.

"It's a (lot) of work for one night, but so totally worth it for the community."

Festival director Jyllie Jackson said: "To stay alive for 20 years is a pretty big deal in this day and age.

"I think the 20th anniversary celebrations will give people an amazing sense of history and place and time, that this is their event."


All grown up

Lismore's premier cultural event generates an average $1.3m for Lismore businesses, with about $30,000 spent on accommodation alone.

Of the 30,000 who attend the parade each year, roughly 45% (more than 13,000) are from outside the area.

This year, local merchants, hospitality and services operators will capitalise even further, with the 20th anniversary parade to coincide with the city's annual stocktake sale and the launch of the tourism "passport" program.


Dr Cole's best compiled in one

FOR composer Dr Fred Cole, it took just a couple of days to knock together the score for this year's Fiery Finale.

"Well, a couple of days and 20 years," he said.

By way of celebrating its 20th solstice as Lismore's premier cultural spectacle, the music for this year's milestone event is a compilation of the best pieces he's composed for the parade since 1994.

In keeping with the spectacle of the anniversary, Dr Cole, working with Jyllie, has come up with a selection that Fred calls a "Best Of" sonic tour through the annals of Lantern Parade history.

"It's a privilege to able to write for such a large-scale spectacular," Fred said.

"We've always had that epic quality in mind. It's much like writing a score for a Spielberg movie and it's not often one gets the opportunity to write music on such a grand scale."

This year's score draws on many genres of sound, from classical and choir to "techno and feral doof".

But for Fred, the 20th anniversary Fiery Finale is all about bringing fantasy and magic to Lismore's Oakes Oval.

"To me, the parade is a thing of magic, a thing of belonging.

"And the score is about working with the lanterns to bring that magic out."

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