Each spring in Sandy Springs, friends and families come together to participate in one of the most unique and spirited events of the year: the Sandy Springs Lantern Parade. This annual gathering invites people of all ages to celebrate the heritage of Sandy Springs and the beautiful Chattahoochee River by walking in a parade lit by homemade lanterns. For 2022, the Lantern Parade will be held on Saturday, April 30. Read on to learn about the parade’s history and how you can be a part of this very special evening in Sandy Springs.
About the Parade
The Sandy Springs Lantern Parade, also known as Take it to the River Lantern Parade, is a family-friendly event designed by local artist Chantelle Rytter. Parade participants walk from Steel Canyon Golf Club to Morgan Falls Overlook Park carrying LED lanterns that they’ve designed and created themselves. These lanterns include everything from lighted globes and homemade animals to cleverly decorated umbrellas and much more. Some lanterns are silly, some are beautiful and all are totally unique. There is endless room for creativity and imagination when creating your own lantern.
As the parade arrives at the riverfront park, the Chattahoochee’s calm waters are lit up with giant floating lanterns that have been designed and constructed by Rytter. The lanterns, which are escorted downriver by kayakers from High Country Outfitters, depict different animals and characters significant to Sandy Springs and the Chattahoochee.
Rytter adds a new floating character each year; at the 2019 parade, she introduced Sanderson and his Swoop of Flying Pigs. The idea for Sanderson came from Sandy Springs’ effort to incorporate back in 2005 when some believed that Sandy Springs would become a city “when pigs fly.” After having a parade in place in 2020, the parade returned in 2021 with new friends, Earl and Ernest the 12' Great White Egrets!
This year, a happy purple hippo is set to join the collection of floating puppets on the river, and there will be a mob of emus surrounding parade artist Jenn Long's 12' tall emu puppets.
Other members of this merry gang include Sandy the Mama Turtle and her babies, Jeremiah the Bullfrog and his lilies, Alice the 25-foot Albino Alligator, and Georgia Kissyfish. Seeing these whimsical creatures floating along the moonlit river is a magical and unforgettable experience no matter your age.
The Parade Route
As mentioned above, the parade begins at the Steel Canyon Golf Club and travels about one mile along Morgan Falls Road to Morgan Falls Overlook Park, one of Sandy Springs’ most popular green spaces. The parade leaves from Steel Canyon at nightfall, around 8:15 pm, and arrives at the terminus about 45 minutes later. Parade participants are encouraged to meet at Pre-parade activities in the Steel Canyon Golf Club (460 Morgan Falls Road) will run from 6 – 8 p.m. and will feature food, entertainment, and children’s activities.
Parking for parade participants and spectators is available at the former WorldPay building and North Springs United Methodist Church. Those who want to view the parade can watch from anywhere along the route on Morgan Falls Road or even follow the parade down to the park on foot. After the parade, shuttles will be available to take participants back to Steel Canyon Golf Club.
Participating in the Parade
Anyone is welcome to take part in the Sandy Springs Lantern Parade. There is no fee to participate, and no registration is needed. The only cost is purchasing supplies to make your lantern.
Creating a Lantern - You Make The Magic!
You can purchase a lantern making kit, and get some tips and tricks from Chantelle Rytter herself, at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market on Saturday, April 9. Lantern kits in different shapes will be for sale ranging from $5-$30. There will also be a limited number of emu lantern puppet hats available for purchase, and Chantelle will be teaching how to make them during the market. If you'd rather make your lantern at home, stop by Ace Hardware or Steel Canyon Golf Club, to purchase a kit after April 2.
Rytter also offers tips, resources, and ideas on her website. It’s important to remember that all parade lanterns must be lit with battery operated lights and carried on a stick or pole. No flames are allowed, and lanterns cannot be released into the sky. Outside of those requirements, there is no limit, so let your imagination fly.
With each passing year, the Sandy Springs Lantern Parade gets bigger, better, and more imaginative. The unique event offers the community a chance to come together and create a magical evening in celebration of Sandy Springs and the Chattahoochee River. Because of the handmade lanterns and Rytter’s annual additions, no two parades are ever the same. Whether you choose to make a lantern and walk in the parade or simply watch its cheerful procession, you don’t want to miss this enchanting event on the Chattahoochee River.
Written by Madison Eubanks for Matcha in partnership with Sandy Springs GA.