Spring into spring: Canalway Partners hosts lantern parade to welcome a new season on the Cuyahoga

As we reset our clocks this weekend—losing an hour and beginning Daylight Saving Time—Canalway Partners plans to welcome spring’s informal return to the banks of the Cuyahoga River this Saturday, March 12 with its first Towpath Trail Lantern Parade—a celebration of light, creativity, and sustainability.    

“As we open this new section of the Towpath Trail, this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Towpath Trail and what we, as a community, are able to create,” says Mera Cardenas, Canalway Partners executive director, who adds that, even though cold, snowy weather is predicted this weekend, it’s the perfect time to get outside.

“Cleveland is a 12-month city, so we should welcome winter,” she continues. “The trail doesn’t close in winter. The outdoors doesn’t close and there are lots of ways to get out there. We’re just embracing the variety of weather in Cleveland. We don’t always think about what a blessing it is to have seasons, and what a blessing it is to have transitions.”  

At the spring forward event, three local artists will display commissioned pieces of illuminated art made entirely from recycled materials. Each lantern will celebrate nature and encourage environmentalism.

“What we asked them to use is either single-use or recyclable material—something they would throw away or in the recycling bin—and then turn it into a piece of art,” says Cardenas. “They’ve been working on [the installations] for six weeks and they’re going to be so beautiful. I can’t wait to see them.”

The featured artists include Debbie Apple Presser, Sam Fryberger, and Darla Arnold, who previously have crafted similar large-scale creations for Cleveland Museum of Art’s  Parade the Circle and Detroit Shoreway’s Dia de Muertos Festival.  
Guest attending the event are encouraged to make their own lanterns from recycled materials and a battery powered light. Creativity is encouraged. Canalway Partners has also provided instructional videos on making homemade lanterns, and Upcycle Parts Shop is hosting lantern-making workshop on Saturday, March 12 at 12 p.m.  

“Carry a big flashlight, wrap a headlamp around your head, use a bike light,” says Cardenas. “This is the people’s parade—anyone’s allowed on the trail, only no open flames! Big or small, homemade lanterns are a great way to repurpose materials that might otherwise be trashed, and an evening on the Towpath is a great way to connect to nature right here in Cleveland. Just imagine hundreds of lights dotting the Towpath Trail.”

Wagons, bikes, and pets (illuminated or not) are also welcome.
 The parade will start and end at Sokolowski’s Overlook, 1203 University Road, near the Tremont Cleveland Script Sign, and includes a 1.6 mile roundtrip along the Towpath Trail. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.
Registration for the parade is encouraged, but not required. Free parking will be available at 1429 Abbey Ave.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.