Sandy Springs resident Olivia Hollingsworth and Ethan Linehan with their handmade lanterns at the 2021 parade. (Amy Wenk)

Locals can start working on their lanterns for Sandy Springs’ annual Take it to the River Lantern Parade at Morgan Falls Overlook Park, scheduled for Saturday, April 30.

Lantern kits will be available at Sandy Springs Ace Hardware and Steel Canyon Golf Club beginning on April 2. Residents can also get kits at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market on April 9 and 16.

“The city was fortunate last year that the Lantern Parade took place not only outside, but during the summer month of June,” city spokesperson Jason Fornicola said. “At that point, people were starting to feel more comfortable attending outdoor events and the attendance numbers reflected that. Despite a humid, stormy start to the event, there was record attendance and we expect to break that record this year.”

Karas Cahill and Clark Ashton of the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons, which performs at lantern parades across metro Atlanta.

Anyone who wants to improve their lantern-making skills can attend one of the city’s workshops at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market on April 9 and 16. Chantelle Rytter, an artist who helped the city design the parade, will be on hand for assistance. She will have kits available for sale.

Free templates also are available on the City Springs website, along with videos of candles and a video tutorial.

This year’s parade will add more family-friendly activities, food trucks, and music. It also will include featured lanterns – Earl and Ernest, 12-foot-tall great white egrets; a “mob” of emus; and river lantern Hardy, the purple hippo, with Laurel, the egret, who rides on his back.

“The Lantern Parade is going to be bigger, brighter, and more magical than ever before,” Fornicola said. 

Participants will meet at the Steel Canyon Golf Club parking lot where they can enjoy music, food trucks and children’s activities prior to the parade.

The parade will feature a glowing procession of light, music and color. Participants will stroll from the golf club to Morgan Falls Overlook Park. Those who make a flying pig lantern march in the front of the parade as a tribute to the city’s origins.

Lanterns include flying pigs, a mascot of Sandy Springs.

As walkers arrive at the park, the river gets transformed with floating lanterns lit and escorted by paddlers from High Country Outfitters.

The city has arranged for free parking with shuttle service at the former World Pay building at 600 Morgan Falls Road. This is the future site of the Sandy Springs Police Department headquarters and the city’s Municipal Court.

Parking and shuttle service also is available at North Springs United Methodist Church at 7770 Roswell Road for $5. The money collected is used to support church outreach programs.

Additional parking and shuttle information can be found on the event website.

Fornicola said last year’s Lantern Parade was magical. “To be able to gather as a community, seeing neighbors and friends sharing the experience and having fun, it felt like a big family reunion,” he said. 

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.