There couldn’t be a more perfect example of what’s great about the Decatur Makers than the collaboration in creating our lanterns for the Decatur Lantern Parade. With 16 white paper lantern canvases in hand, a bunch of makers with a range of skills and interests were inspired to work together and build our buzzing and blooming light show that floated its way thru downtown Decatur on the evening of May 15. And what an amazingly dreamy night it was!
Would it rain?? That was the biggest worry all week leading up to the Parade, but Friday evening turned out perfectly for the over 1,500 folks we joined that night. Our gaggle of makers gathered early that evening for finishing touches on our rather complicated project and to practice “marching” while keeping our lanterns in the right order.
The right order was extremely important for the 16 LED light strips inside the lanterns. In fact, each strip inside each lantern even had a particular direction it needed to face. All this so the Arduino-driven light sequences would run right; These included moving rainbows, green lights chasing red lights, firefly-like lazy flashes, blue lights racing around the outside of the lantern while yellow lights raced in the other direction on the inside of the lantern, and many more. The time and effort that went into the technology and programming of our light show was incredible. But the kids (and adults) playing with the master controller at the Parade only appreciated the totally cool effects.
Plus, these lanterns were more than just technology… they also had their own physical personality. While keeping the “zone of wonderment” free of decoration so no one would miss the lights, our makers topped each of the 16 lanterns with crafted art (we’re talking cut up wiffle balls, tissue paper and hot pink mesh stockings here), turning them into large bees and huge flowers. We’d like to send a shout-out to the kids at the Science of Fun for all their help!
From soldering, programming and electrical knowledge, to sawing, engineering and crafting skills, this project was driven by the imaginations of a lot of people all working together; People of all ages with different skill sets and abilities helping each other out. This is what it means to be a Decatur Maker. Thanks to all our makers and parade marchers who worked tirelessly on this awesome adventure! And did someone say “Beltline Lantern Parade”??