14th Annual Lantern Festival | Forest Hills Cemetery | Boston Event Photography

Yesterday marked the 14th Annual Lantern Festival in the Forest Hills Cemetery. I had never been so I packed myself up early and planned to read my book and just lounge while I waited for the festivities to begin. I stopped at a favorite cafe and grabbed on of my favorite sandwiches of all time and an iced coffee. I was all set to kick my feet up and soak up the scene.

After much deliberation and multiple text messages with my friend, I chose a great little spot directly across from where the stage was on the other side of the pond. Perfect. The breeze started to come in and it was just lovely. Now, I have to admit... I was SO early, I believe I beat all other visitors and almost all the volunteer and staff. Excited Much?!

Getting there early did one thing though... it really allowed me to stroll around the pond and figure out where things were happening. Maybe I should back up a bit... Here is the description of the event via the Forest Hills Education Trust website.

".... the Lantern Festival draws its inspiration from the Japanese Bon Festival -- a celebration each year when a door opens to the world of their ancestors allowing loved ones to send messages to the other side. It is a time when neighbors come together to share stories, celebrate, and honor the memories of loved ones. Enjoy traditional Japanese dance from students of Showa Boston, Irish music from guitar and fiddle duo the Whiskey Boys, Chinese dragon dance from Gund Kwok and Grand Master Tsuji's Taiko drummers."

First I found all the frames for the lanterns... and man... there were so many of them. In all my years living in Jamaica Plain, I had not made it over for this event before and when the reports say 5,000 people in attendance, I always kind of guffawed... well now, I can't say for sure numbers but there were A LOT of people... I mean A LOT!

And I'd say they had quite a few lantern skeletons too!

The stations for Calligraphy and decoration were also prepped.

I left the drummers alone while they set up and quite honestly I just wanted to kick my feet up, I mean, wasn't there dinner waiting for me... ha. As I made my way back and my mouth was watering I came across this little fella sitting in the tree... I wondered just how sea worthy it would be...

When I returned to my spot I got sucked into watching the dragon flies flitting around, until my stomach reminded me of my immediate needs.

As a few more people started to show up... so did this guy...

A buzz started to form in the air and people were discussing those they wanted to honor that day and just how they would decorate their lanterns.

It was beautiful watching this woman as she wrote out the characters for visitors.

Some went to the big tables... while others like my friend chose to bring their own supplies.

The Creation of Great Uncle Sydney's message in progress...

The performances drew the largest crowd by far and I only caught some of the action with my camera and instead ended up chatting with folks I hadn't seen in a while.

At this point I got word from my friend that some people were starting to converge on my space... so I rushed back to hold my ground.... ha.

On my return I started to see all the completed lanterns and my excitement grew.

ready for launch...

Now, I don't have too much else to say except, as the sun set and people started to put their messages onto the pond, people around me were crying for their loved ones lost and it was a surreal moment. On stage someone started playing Amazing Grace and as the wind took the lanterns into it's arms I was just happy to be there and capture a few shots. Below you'll find my favorites. I didn't move from my spot and I realize now that I may not have really shown how large of an event this really was, but I think you'll get the point. And if you ever have the chance to attend something like this in your own town or if you want to travel to Jamaica Plain for it, I don't think you'll regret it.

Enjoy.