VIDEO: Okehampton Lanterns 2013 "a great success", say organizers
By PGStrange | Thursday, February 28, 2013, 15:17
OKEHAMPTON'S LANTERNS Procession 2013 is being heralded as a "great success" by the event organizers…
The spectacular finale of this 2013 Okehampton Lanterns Procession
The crowd assembles at St James Chapel in Okehampton, prior to this year's lanterns procession
The procession, headed by the illuminated mechanical kingfisher, enters Okehampton's Simmons Park
The illuminated procession – a "celebration" of Okehampton that also raised money to fund next year's lanterns – was attended by around 250 people on Saturday 23 February. Walking slowly behind an illuminated kingfisher, the crowd carried dozens of lanterns from St James Chapel to a spectacular finale in Simmons Park.
"The main purpose of the event is to celebrate Okehampton," said Paul Tucker, Resources and Events Co-ordinator for Wren Music. "We have a great town and this way we get people from all walks of life to come together and take a short walk through the streets and out to the park.
"This year's event was a great success in terms of getting the public involved. We had some terrific help from the community. Four young people helped for the whole week, making their own lanterns as well as helping other people to make lanterns during the workshops."
The 2013 procession was financed by a grant from Okehampton United charities and part-funded by Devon County Council. Wren Music supplied the "artistic content", while BBC Performing Arts Fund and West Devon Borough Council paid for a new song to be written.
Folk singer, concertina player and songwriter Tim Laycock wrote the new composition. The piece was inspired by an idea suggested by members of the West Devon Choir – who meet in Okehampton – and was performed by the choir during the event.
"We were pleased with the song and are glad the West Devon Choir have such a personal song for them, written by such a great musician as Tim," said Mr Tucker. "Tim was also very pleased with the event. He was helping to clean the park after everyone left, and had a huge smile on his face!"
A lyric from the song inspired the large, illuminated mechanical kingfisher at the head of the procession. Designed and built by Gavin Lewery – an artist/pyrotechnician and musician from Shropshire – the kingfisher took five days to create from steel wire, willow, tissue paper and LED lights.
The procession's lanterns – each incorporating a candle – were constructed during a series of workshops, held in the run-up to the event. The lanterns were made out of withies (thin willow) and high-grade tissue, covered with latex glue to make a strong, shower-proof structure.
It was the second year that the event had been held, and the organizers say that several lessons have been learned.
"Last year we had two processions, one from the rugby club and one from Giblands Park," said Mr Tucker. "This meant a lot of people saw the procession, but it was a logistics problem." This year there was just the one procession, which appeared to be easier to manage.
Other improvements included the use of glowsticks for younger children.
"This enabled children as young as three to join in on the procession, without parents having to worry about the fire aspect."
More work to be done
But the organizers say there's more work to be done.
"We would like to have more members of the community making bigger images," said Mr Tucker. "We had the kingfisher this year, but if we could get more adults interested in making, then we might be able to have bigger images on the procession as well as at the bandstand."
A collection was taken on the night, with proceeds going back to help fund next year's lanterns. "I can't give exact figures, but I would estimate we collected around £50," said Mr Tucker.
Wren Music has thanked a number of organizations for their help in this year's event.
These include the Lions Club of Okehampton, Okehampton Round Table and the Rotary Club of Okehampton for stewarding. Okehampton Rugby Club have also been thanked "for the use of their rooms for the lantern-making sessions" and Okehampton Running Club have been thanked "for being so understanding".
"We would also like to thank the Rev Stephen Cook for letting us store the lanterns in St James Chapel, and Don Bent for the use of the park," said Mr Tucker.
The organizers have confirmed that they are planning a procession for 2014.
"Definitely," said Mr Tucker. "Please keep an eye on our Okehampton event site www.folkieoke.co.uk for details."
More pictures: Okehampton Lanterns Procession 2013