Lantern Walk at Lighthouse Park Welcomes Autumn

Nov 07, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

A gathering of young children and their parents greeted the early dusk and the return to Standard Time on Sunday evening at Lighthouse Park in Manahawkin. A lantern walk was organized by Sunday D’Arcangelo, who heads up the local chapter of Tinkergarten, an environmental education program made of outdoor classes where kids learn through play. The lanterns were battery-operated tea lights inside 8-ounce mason jars.

Along with her toddler, Jules, and husband (Jules wrangler), Albert Miller, D’Arcangelo had brought a tub full of instruments (makeshift percussion instruments culled from household supplies), provided the lanterns, and had made cookies for all attendees.

She had spread the word on Facebook and among friends and neighbors. The turnout was an impressive 30 families or so.

The meeting began with three songs, played by D’Arcangelo on the ukulele and sung by everyone. She also shared some inspiring words about how nature is one thing that unites everyone, no matter what other differences they might have. When the sun went down, the lanterns got distributed and illuminated, and the group paraded along the half-mile paved loop perimeter of the park’s grassy field. The leisurely pace allowed for parents to chat and for little ones to veer off track to inspect a plant or take a few rolls down a hill.

Susie Stewart and her family live in Queens, N.Y., and have a house in Surf City. She has run a Tinkergarten group in her hometown, inspired by a desire “to bring people to nature.” She said she attempted to start a Tinkergarten group in Surf City, but the borough would not approve it.

Stewart did lead a Tinkergarten class in the area last spring, in Barnegat, at the Friends Meeting House yard. “It was a beautiful setting and a wonderful class, and I am so grateful that I was given permission to use the grounds there,” she said.

Like D’Arcangelo, Stewart also is a teacher. She teaches within the educational philosophy known as Waldorf or Steiner, which strives to develop students’ intellectual, artistic and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner centrally focused on imagination and creativity. The Waldorf practice is to give children outdoor time every day, even in the rain, but not in storms or extreme temperatures, she added.

Lantern walks are a German tradition known as Laternelaufen, conducted in November around St. Martin’s Day, when young kids walk along the streets holding colorful self-made lanterns.

Tinkergarten meets from 10 to 11:15 a.m. on Wednesdays in the woods near Waretown Lake. For more information on signing up, contact D’Arcangelo at  —V.F.

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