I believe we have a common calling to delight one another. Once we get to answering that call on the regular, we never want to live any other way. To see the people we share a community with as playful volumes of light, and to be witnessed as such, does a body good. It is restorative. It is collective joy, and we need it. We have a need to meet in another space, above and away from the clamor of the day to laugh and dance together. We need traditions to remind us that we have capacity for collective joy because we forget.
We have seen the rise of lantern parades during an extraordinarily divisive decade in our country. In our current climate, joyful actions are defiant. Make a lantern and walk in the parade is a very different call to action. It is the call to delight one another, and we are answering it resoundingly. Humans can do this.
I believe there is a need for recurring occasions that value individual creative expression, where a community experiences its illuminated self. As traditions, participatory creative celebrations reinforce our belief in the extraordinary nature of our collective character. I strive to create platforms for this experience.
Chantelle Rytter is a parade artist best known for founding the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade with the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons, of which she is the proud Captain. Chantelle has created a family of annual lantern parades based in community participation over the last ten years in Sandy Springs, Midtown, and Hilton Head Island. Chantelle grew up in Baltimore and studied integrative arts at Penn State University. She lived in New Orleans for ten years and fell under the spell of parade culture and the notion that creative play can be a civic gift.
Chantelle founded Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons in New Orleans in 1999 to lure her Atlanta friends to Mardi Gras in hopes they would fall in love with parading. They did. The Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons are the Gnomes in the Inman Park Parade, the giant Skeletons of Little Five Points, and the puppeteers of all the giant lantern puppets. The Krewe's tag line is "Advocating grown-up playtime since 1999".