Chet Greason, email@example.com
An estimated 750 Mitchell residents went for a walk in the woods tonight (Feb. 16) despite temperatures that hovered around the minus 15 degree mark; their way illuminated by hundreds of candle-lit lanterns while soft music echoed through a natural area simply called The Woodlands.
"The lanterns transform the woods into a magic, fairytale setting," explained organizer Gerry Kehl of the Rotary Club of Mitchell, which puts on the event in cooperation with West Perth's Energy and Environment Committee.
Families met at Mitchell's public works building where they boarded one of three tractor-drawn haywagons, which transported them down to the 15-acre forest. The series of trails within were dotted by lanterns, all made from recycled materials such as old glass jars and decorated milk cartons.
"There's around 300 trail lights (simple single candles encased within plastic two-litre pop bottles) and 260 decorative lanterns," said Patty Kehl, who constructed many of the lanterns herself. The rest were made during a series of workshops held by the Rotary Club.
"We thought it would be something nice for the community," she explained, adding she was inspired to organize the event after attending a similar evening in nearby Goderich.
"The sparkling snow; the candlelight; the different coloured lanterns ... it makes it magical having the nighttime all lit up."
This is the fourth year the lantern walk has taken place, and each year it gets a little bigger. Once visitors were back in the warmth of the public works building, they could sit and enjoy hot chocolate and Timbits provided by the local Tim Hortons, warm apple cider, and listen to live music provided by bluegrass singer Loraina Fox and her father Charles Fitzsimmons.
Admission was by donation. The Rotary will use the funds raised for various projects both local and international.
"We purposefully hold it on (the) Family Day (weekend) every year," says president elect of Mitchell's Rotary Club and operations manager of West Perth, Mike Kraemer. "It's a family event. Parents, kids seniors ... it's what Family Day's all about."