Lanterns and Lightening Bugs – Shola Lee

Once a year Morningside Park and Columbia’s campus is illuminated by a procession of handcrafted lanterns. The tradition is five years old and offers a quiet, phosphorescent oasis amidst busy city life.

Morningside Lights has been running for six years, each annual event bearing a different theme but pertaining a communal spirit that, like the lanterns’ light, pervades through the busy New York night. The theme of this year’s parade was ‘secret garden’, which resulted in a charming amalgamation of woodland creatures and insects created by the Morningside community.

Some friends and I decided to have a creative retreat and attended the lantern making sessions that proceeded the light parade. We were tasked with creating a lightning bug, a creature none of us had actually seen in person; this endeavour resulted in our creating a rather abstract though ~artistically~ acceptable lantern, which vaguely resembled a shrimp with wings…


Nevertheless, our tireless efforts of sticking scraps of tissue paper with PVA glue to a pre-made lantern proved worthwhile.


I am definitely not biased, in any way, so believe me when I say that ours was the most fantastic lantern embodiment of a lightning bug that I have ever seen. The immense pride my friends and I felt lead to us affectionately naming the paper light ‘Buggy’, a unique and creative name, I know.

Aside from the creation and eventual procession of Buggy and the light parade, university life over the past few weeks has been chaotic; the reading, events, and classes cause the days to pass in a wonderfully intense blur.

It’s easy to get caught up in the constant buzz of the subway and the rush of people clambering to and from Columbia. So, to stop and take a minute to admire the campus in the moonlight; the glowing bugs, butterflies, and bramble of garden creatures as they fluttered through college-walk reminded me slow down and enjoy every endearing oddity the city has to offer.


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