An ancient Asian ritual will see the pond at West Parish Church Cemetery lit with floating lanterns Saturday as the community honors friends and family, both living and departed.
Designed around a 2,000-year-old traditional Chinese festival, the cemetery council’s first Family Lantern Festival aims to bring the public together in a collective spiritual experience built around the sunset launch of the decorated lanterns on the pond.
“We think this is a good time for a spiritual event for all of Andover after the recent Marathon events,” said Lynne Capozzi, chairwoman of the West Parish Garden Cemetery Council.
The festivities go from 6 to 8 p.m. at the cemetery pond located behind the chapel, at 129 Reservation Road, and celebrates the birthday of the heaven officer who blesses human luck, according to organizers. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic supper and a blanket or chairs, as well as flashlights. Everyone will be invited to decorate their lantern shade with the help of Chinese calligraphers and float them with a candle in the cemetery pond.
“It’s a way to honor loved ones and each lantern will have a message of eternal life, peace, hope and faith,” organizer Nancy Simili of Andover said.
Simili said other cemeteries hold Lantern Festivals every year and the events are popular and well-attended. So, West Parish decided to host its own.
“Our grounds are so beautiful and we wanted to do something to show them off,” Simili said. The cemetery council is seeking a $10 donation per lantern, with proceeds going to support the chapel roof renovation fund.
In addition to the lantern decorating, there will be entertainment featuring Chinese singers from the Andover-Acton Chorus, a children’s production by the Chinese School of Andover, a trio of Chinese drummers and martial arts demonstrations by students from Yang’s in Andover. A Lion Dance will be performed prior to the lighting and Dr. Robert Atwood will play peaceful bagpipe music as the lanterns are launched at sunset.
What: Family Lantern Festival Where: West Parish Garden Cemetery, pond behind chapel, 129 Reservation Road When: Saturday, May 11, 6 to 8 p.m. What to Know: People can buy lanterns for $10 and have them inscribed. The lanterns will have a candle inside. Proceeds benefit the chapel roof renovation fund. Call 978-475-3902 or visit westparishgardencemetery.org.