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Lighting the way – Lantern Parade more than just pretty lights

By Melissa Wagoner

When Sheltering Silverton created the Children’s Lantern Parade in 2018, they wanted the event to be more than just another parade.

“It’s about people lighting up the dark for their neighbors,” Sheltering Silverton founder Sarah White explained. 

Both those with homes and those without.

“This is a way to remind [the unhoused], you’re not alone and you’re welcome here,” she continued.

And to the community at large, “We wanted to be empowering and focus on how this is a solvable problem,” she said. 

Held on First Friday in December, leading up to the Christmas Tree Lighting in Town Square Park, the event kicks off in the covered pavilion at Coolidge McClaine Park at 4 p.m., where lanterns are available for purchase and decoration along with cookies and hot chocolate. 

“Michele Finicle – who’s really involved – she’s going to be changing the [space] into a gingerbread hut,” White described, listing a visit from Santa, and even the Grinch, as other ways the group plans to liven up the space.

Santa interacting with a Children's Lantern Parade participant.
Santa interacting with a Children’s Lantern Parade participant.

While the event is a way to bring the community together around the topic of houselessness, it is also one of the group’s most important fundraisers. 

“We’d like to raise $10,000,” White said, listing the addition of T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, coffee cups, tumblers and ornaments as some of this year’s newest additions.

“People can also sign up to be a monthly sustainer,” Sheltering Silverton Director Kayla Burdine-Rea added. She added that a PayPal-based program will enable donors to support the organization’s Warming Shelter.

“Typically, that’s $30 per person per night,” Burdine said of the estimated cost of just one night’s stay. 

Sheltering Silverton also runs a resource center, where clients can get information regarding transitional shelter options, food services and meeting basic needs.

“Every winter we shelter families with children who go to our schools,” White emphasized. “We shelter people with pets, veterans and people with ties to the Silverton community.”

Which is why, along with its fundraising potential, the sheer visibility of the Children’s Lantern Parade is of such importance. 

“This is a great opportunity to introduce homelessness in a way that’s not scary and that introduces empathy,” Sheltering Silverton Case Manager Hallie Ziebart said. “And it’s a really great time to encourage these conversations with children because they’re seeing some really confusing things.”

Ziebart has hope that the Lantern Parade will help shed some light on the topic for both young and old alike. 

“I think the lighting will be especially beautiful this year,” she said.

Children’s Lantern Parade

Decorate a lantern, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and a visit with Santa Claus and the Grinch. 

Coolidge McClaine Park Pavilion First Friday, Dec. 2. Lantern Decorating 4 to 6 p.m.

$5 per lantern, supports Sheltering Silverton.

Parade starts at 6:15 p.m., proceeding down Fiske Street to the Christmas Tree Lighting in Town Square Park

Silverton Chamber of Commerce organizes entertainment and the 7 p.m. tree lighting with Santa 

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