Lighting up the streets

Crouse Street was lined with lanterns Saturday evening as hundreds of people from across the state gathered for the first annual ‘Light –UP’ Lantern Festival in University Park.

Street vendors selling sausages, homemade hats and glow bracelets lined the street providing a family friendly atmosphere for the warm October evening. Fun was not lacking as several participants featured brightly colored hair and costumes. Fortunetellers, henna tattoos parlors and even a comedic fire juggler attracted large crowds as pre-ceremony entertainment.

It doesn’t feel like it’s in the city, said Kristen Haupt, sophomore majoring in speech language pathology. It’s like all of this sprung up overnight.

Several musicians and bands were in attendance; including local folk rock band Shivering Timbers. The band drew a large crowd as they played a few songs. During the last song, nearly the entire crowd clapped along as the band ended with an up-tempo number.

The theme this for this year’s festival was Circus of Lights. After the skies darkened, all that had created colorful lanterns gathered for the parade. They created a dazzling display of lights and costumes as they marched around the University Park neighborhood.

Heather Burns, on-air personality for 91.3 The Summit, served as Master of Ceremonies for the festival.

This is really bringing together a community that wasn’t even considered a community until a few years ago, said Burns. I feel like this festival really makes the neighborhood whole.

One of the main sponsors of the event was Don Drumm Studios, an Akron-based art studio and gallery. The art gallery, located right along the festival pathway, was open for public viewing. The vast gallery featured a wide array of art including paintings, metal works and blown glass pieces. While browsing the gallery, customers could peruse the shelves for piece of art that they wanted to purchase. The gallery featured work by several local artists.

Don Drumm Studios also awarded gift certificates for the best lanterns, giant puppets or lighted creations. The first place winner received a $200 gift certificate for Don Drumm Studios, second place received a $100 gift certificate and third place received three $50 gift certificates.

Last year’s festival was attended by more than 500 people, including many young children and their families. This year’s festival attracted more than twice as many people and featured additional promotional activity, more lantern-making workshops and more artists and performers participating.