In November 2021, our Stronger Communities Fund helped support Trowbridge Town Council with their yearly lantern parade.
The council held lantern-making workshops in local schools, during half-term and even one in our Trowbridge office.
To find out more about the parade we spoke to the organisers Vicky and Jennie.
How did you come up with the idea for a lantern parade?
Vicky: "I started working for Trowbridge Town Council in 2019 and was tasked with sorting the Christmas light switch-on event. It was quite a traditional event, so I was keen to introduce a lantern parade. I had a few talks with people who had done it locally in Devizes and they gave lots of great advice and put me in touch with Jennie, who had experience working in carnivals and lantern parades."
Jennie: "Yeah, it was exciting because I am very keen on community arts and the response from Trowbridge people has been amazing."
How has the parade adapted over the last few years?
Vicky: "The first year we were worried we weren't going to get anyone show up, we thought at best we'd get a hundred people and a handful of lanterns. In reality, it was closer to 2000 people and around 300 lanterns. And of course, covid happened and we couldn't do much last year. We did hand out pre-packaged lantern kits so that people could make them at home and display them in their windows. This year we were all ready to go, hoping it would be a lift out of covid so we were really disappointed to have weather warnings. So we had the big lanterns displayed in St James' Church and we still gave the schools the chance for the kids to collect their handmade lanterns. We had the military wives choir booked for the event and a brilliant samba band to lead the parade so we didn't cancel those elements, we just contained them all in the church. And actually the atmosphere was really wonderful up there. We had hundreds of people streaming in to collect their lanterns and lots of people just coming in to have a look to see what was happening. We had close to 2500 people outside the church and on Fore street on Saturday. So the potential is there for it to be something enormous next year."
Why did you apply for funding through our Stronger Communities Fund?
Vicky: "We applied for funding in 2019 as we were keen to kick off this community project and very kindly divided funding to just help with the cost of materials and deliver workshops in different areas. That funding has helped us to get those materials and deliver the workshops free of charge. We are really grateful for this support. It's also helped us access different areas and venues and working groups. We've actually done some community-based workshops this year and that is something we'd like to work on next year working with Trowbridge Futures. We've done some bits with care homes and residential homes for the elderly."
Why do you want to do it each year?
Jennie: "Wanting other people to recognise that Trowbridge is actually full of some really talented people and want to do something to bring the community together. When you have an event that's really well supported it shows that there is a need for this and a huge potential to do things. The schools are so supportive and the kids love it. Everyone has been so positive and that is what has kept me going to a certain extent."
Vicky: "We want to provide something that our residents and businesses enjoy and benefit from. Even with a few difficult years, we've created something that people look forward to and want to get involved with for no other reason than a fun community event. Being accessible to everyone has been a really big part of it for us. Because the workshops are free of charge and materials are free of charge for the user. We wanted to make something that everyone in the community can participate in."