Sept. 13, by Nathaly Pesantez
The Long Island City waterfront will be the site of a peace festival this weekend, complete with activities like meditation, interfaith prayers, water-floating lanterns, and public paddling.
The Peace Lanterns Festival is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Gantry Plaza State Park on Center Boulevard and 49th Ave. The all-day festival roster is divided into two simultaneous activity blocks.
Kayaking will be available for attendees from 2pm to 6pm, along with face painting, henna tattooing, lantern decorating, and other crafts workshops. “Afrodancercise”, taught by the non-profit Siren Protectors of the Rainforest, will available at 6pm.
In another section from 2:30pm until 6:00pm, visitors can participate in guided meditation and yoga.
The festival will transition into interfaith prayers and speeches from select speakers, including Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, Bangladesh representative to the United Nations, and Alex de Sherbinin, a Columbia University science professor, from 6:30pm until 7:30pm. Then, the floating lanterns ceremony will take place until 8:30pm, where they will be floated out the waterfront.
No sign-up is required, and all activities are free for the event.
The event is organized by HarborLAB, the Buddhist Council of New York, the Interfaith Center of New York, and the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace.
The first Peace Day lantern ceremonies began in 2002 when the president of the Buddhist Council of New York partnered with Erik Baard, the founder of HarborLAB, to create an event to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. The ceremonies took place by the Hudson River for the first ten years, a location that Baard sees as having a spiritual connection to the towers, especially when he remembers the large smoke plume spreading and falling over the river on the day of the attack.
Last year’s festival, which also took place at the waterfront, saw thousands of attendees, with 200 people kayaking in total. Participants also set afloat 100 decorated lanterns during the 2016 festival.
Organizers are still looking for volunteers for Saturday’s event. For information on volunteering, email [email protected]