On the evening of Sunday, June 5, 2016, photographer Diane Padys of Diane Padys Photography volunteered to meet me at Bloedel Donovan Park to photograph an example of the new floating lantern for Floating Lantern Pet Memorial 2016. At 9:00 p.m. the beach was still full of families and their dogs, enjoying the warmth of the day that was stretching into dusk.
Lying prone on blankets at the edge of the lake, Diane graciously dealt with curious dogs and children while taking photos for almost an hour. As the light began to fade, we placed the lantern into the lake, and watched as the gentle waves surrounding the lantern turned gold.
This year Floating Lantern will be held at Bloedel Donovan Park, on the edge of Lake Whatcom. The beach along the north end of the park provides a wide and open viewing area for participants and spectators. Any Silver Beach resident that has a view of that section of the lake will also be able to enjoy the beauty of this event from their own home.
For 2016 we’ll also utilize a brand new locally designed and developed lantern. Last year we found out (the hard way) that typical floating lanterns don’t work well in the Pacific Northwest in September. I began thinking about a new lantern, and eventually recruited my friend, and master woodworker, Abe Bates of Baraa Woodworking to help design and fabricate prototypes.
Mass-produced floating lanterns are rather flimsy and light-weight. They’re designed for use in calm swimming pools or warmer, less-windy areas of the world. In contrast, the lanterns we use here in September have to be substantial enough to stay afloat regardless of waves, wind and rain. They need something to protect the rice paper (decorated by pet parents) from the elements. They also need to be 100% waterproof, modular for storage, re-usable, and simple to construct. They need to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and none of the materials involved should break-down in water causing pollution of any kind.
A few months ago, while meeting with Abe in his studio to discuss the latest prototype, Abe’s friend and fellow woodworker Karl Mielke of Slow Build Studio suggested that we employ cork. Karl’s idea inspired a few ideas of my own, and building on what we had learned from Abe’s efforts, the new floating lantern was born!
The new lantern, as fabulous as it is, is not cheap. Each lantern will cost approximately $30 to build. However, the new lantern is 99% reusable—only the rice paper will need to be replaced each year. It is also designed to last for years and years.
The new lanterns aren’t the only expense. Putting on an event like Floating Lantern costs money. Here are some of the key expenses for 2016:
- $550 for park and building rental
- $2,400 for development costs and building 75 lanterns
- $300 to $500 for advertising (graphic design, flyers, posters, etc.)
- $250 donation to Whatcom Humane Society on behalf of event participants.
Estimated Cost: $3,700
Estimated Income from Lantern Reservations (Minus Sales Tax): $1,600
Life Cycle Out-of-Pocket Sponsorship: $2,100
Floating Lantern was never intended to be a money making operation for Life Cycle. The cost of the inaugural event in 2015 was $1,600 and only $800 was covered by lantern reservations. In 2016, Life Cycle will once again pay for the difference in expenses and lantern rental (~$2,100), and we’re happy to do so.
Floating Lantern is a passion project that has been years in the making, and that will continue to grow and be around for years to come. Financial projections show that in a year or two lantern reservations will not only cover expenses but they will help generate proceeds which will then be donated to local pet charities.
Helping fund local charities is a worthy goal, but it’s not the main goal of Floating Lantern. The primary goal is to provide grieving pet parents with an opportunity to come together for one night a year and honor the memory of the pets we have loved and lost.
On Sunday, September 11, 2016, how meaningful will it feel to be sitting or standing with other pet parents on the beach at Bloedel Donovan, listening to the artistry of local musicians, watching a slow procession of beautifully decorated lanterns, all while collectively giving silent gratitude for the pets who have enriched our lives?
Come join us for Floating Lantern Pet Memorial 2016 and find out! Visit http://www.pet-lantern-bham.com for more information.