The Play House is already up and running, inviting people to come in and flex their creative muscles as they make a lantern, candle installation or masque for this year’s Snow King’s Masque Parade.
The sixth annual pageant and parade will be taking place on Saturday Feb. 18, this year featuring the theme Dancing in the Streets.
This community festival starts in the Spirit Square, parades its way over the Pedestrian Bridge, along the path by the river, and ends on 9th Avenue North for dancing in the streets.
The event is centred around the fire at the Spirit Square, and it’s backed up with music,” said organizer Joyce deBoer. “These giant puppets, the Snow King and Lady Spring, make a grand entrance with hoopla and pomp and circumstance, and they sort of reign over the event.”
Anyone who has created a costume or lantern will be invited to dance in front of the fire before the parade sets on its way.
“The path by the river is where all the lanterns are installed. So it’s really dark. It starts at 6:30 p.m., just as dusk is falling heavily. There’s all these glowing lanterns hanging from trees, or in the dry bed,” said deBoer.
“And then there will be dancing in the streets, 45 minutes to an hour, with DJ music. If people have a specific dance or act, they will be showcased and highlighted. So it’s up to two hours of activity and people opt in and out depending on how cold it is, and how young your children are.”
In the past six years, the event has grown and changed into what it is today. And the same people who enjoyed it back when it first started, are still continuing to come back and experience this unique community event. “The first year I thought if 100 people showed up it would be a success, and we had about 500, which totally blew us away. And then we realized that those people were going to tell their friends, because it was spectacular. So now I think we usually cap out at about 1,000 people, because that’s all that can fit,” said deBoer.
Anyone who wishes has until the last day before the masque parade to make a masque or lantern. Supplies are free, and help and guidance will be on hand.
“People start and say, well I just don’t know what to do… and before you know it they’ve created something they’re really pleased with. And they come back the next year and they make something even more elaborate.”
The Play House, located on 9th Avenue North beside the Crooked Antler, is open Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., and Wednesdays from 3 to 8 p.m. But any group that wants to come in and can’t make those hours can be accommodated, just email email@example.com.
“There’s a little bit of magic that happens that night, and you can see it in the kids’ faces,” said deBoer. “It’s a really neat festival.”