Take Five with Maria Aldana, Great Halloween Lantern Parade director

The Baltimore Sun
Creative Alliance's Maria Aldana shares 5 things that make this year's Halloween Lantern Parade truly great

Each year, lights and sounds fill the air in Patterson Park, as the community gathers for the annual Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival produced by the Creative Alliance and Friends of Patterson Park.

Maria Aldana, 33, of Hampden, is Creative Alliance's community arts manager and directs the event. She said what started in 1999 as a way to promote community safety and solidarity has grown into a wonderful display of artistry and music. The Halloween festival begins at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and the parade kicks off at 7 p.m.

Aldana shared with us the five things that make this year's Halloween Lantern Parade truly great.

Community

That takes years to build and that is what makes this event even exist — because there's always a market for it. It's its own entity and people come who we don't even know are involved and bring their own neighbors.

Color

In terms of people of color in leadership positions, we've been very intentional about that. And also the colors of lanterns and the costumes we've commissioned. … Color is also the reason why it's called "Kaleidoscope" this year — that's our theme. It's like an all-encompassing word for color for us. A kaleidoscope is this tool and when you see through it all of these random objects converge to make a beautiful, shiny thing and no matter what you look at through the lens of a kaleidoscope, it's always beautiful.

Artists

You need high-quality artists that are going to make really fun, new objects that illuminate. … This year we put out a call for submissions for the first time, which is really exciting because we launched a new structure for the Halloween parade to be much more inclusive and open to new and emerging artists, artists that we may not know, artists that have never made a giant, illuminated object before or maybe those that have that we don't know about. So we have over two dozen artists that are working with us to make giant lanterns for this year's parade.

Marching bands

Community bands, professional bands, bands of different age groups and genders and genres of music. … Last year we did not have marching bands and the community responded and said, "We really want marching bands back," and we were really surprised by the amount of response we got about that. So this year we have marching bands that are back and have been selected, like the Westsiders and a samba band of an all-women drum core called Batala.

A beginning and an end

[To start it off,] there's a big festival with lots of free [family] activities to do to get into the spirit of the fall. … And then the end of it is a video finale which I think is also a response to the community because we used to do live shadow puppet projections, so this year we've commissioned a new artist that we've never worked with before to work on an animation, all-digital, all hand-done to live music.

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