HAWTHORNE, NJ – A lantern float, reminiscent of the Japanese toro nagashi flowing lantern ceremony, took place Friday evening when the tranquil waters of Arnold’s Pond in Goffle Brook Park were illuminated by drifting lanterns marked in memory of lost loved ones, well wishes, hopes, prayers, remembrances, and other meaningful sentiments held by residents.
The lantern float was a unique activity to benefit the Parent Teacher Organization for Hawthorne High School. After some initial wrangling with county authorities—Goffle Brook Park is a county, not a municipal park—the event was given the go-ahead after receiving approval by the County of Passaic.
“There is no greater resource than our children,” Lisa Spirito Kowalski, President of the Hawthorne High School Parent Teacher Organization said in a statement prior to the lantern float. Lanterns, made with rice paper sides, a buoyant wooden base, with a tea light inside, could be purchased for $20 each or $30 for two, and were quickly sold out. Kowalski said, “The money raised will be used to benefit our students at Hawthorne High School.” In all, 185 lanterns were sold and $3,000 was raised which will go to support scholarships for Hawthorne High School seniors.
The Hawthorne High School Band was present to play for the evening celebration and excellent weather graced the event. Markers were provided for those who purchased lanterns to put their own messages on them. Kowalski said, “Most of the lanterns were written in memory of someone. The weather was perfect for this event despite the horrible winter we have been having, which we all felt was a sign from heaven.”
Crowds of people, consisting mostly of local families, gathered to sign their lanterns and have them set out on the pond. The Hawthorne Fire Department placed them on the pond from a boat, a process which took some time, given the number of lanterns purchased. In all, the well-attended program lasted until about 9:00 p.m. “It was uplifting,” Kowalski told TAPinto Hawthorne. “Bringing all of these people together, you know everyone is carrying something. I think it made them feel at peace, not feeling alone. It was a good community event, emotional, showed a lot of community camaraderie. I couldn’t stop smiling.” Kowalski said she hopes to repeat this fundraiser venue next year.
The Hawthorne Fire Department was on hand to collect the lanterns at the end of the event.
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