Windy conditions ground lanterns for Mott Park festival in Flint

17. června 2013 v 7:59
Members of the community gathered in Mott Park to release paper lanterns into the night sky but two mishaps kept the event grounded. Nonetheless, about 100 people filtered in and out of the park around dusk for the event.

First, windy conditions forced organizers to use helium balloons with RGB led instead of paper lanterns with fire, as they would have posed a risk of fire if they were blown astray. And then the back-up balloons became untangled from where they were tied down and floated away prematurely.

Eric Hinds, one of Flint's resident artists and the organizer of the event, said it was unfortunate that the lanterns weren't able to be released, but noted that the materials for the paper lantern were still ready to be used on a less windy night. He added that he received useful community feedback about possible future events that could be held at parks.

"I want to do it again next year," Hinds said. "I've learned a lot from doing it this year."

Hinds said he wants to work with more artists in the future and see it become a well-known festival.

"I want to just see it grow as much as a possible," he said. "As many people as I could fill this park up with, I could."

Plus, the lanterns weren't the only part of the night, as free hotdogs and watermelon were served, local artists painted and interacted with the public and a children's art table with markers and construction paper was set up.

Hinds emphasized that events like this that draw residents to the parks are vital for communities and neighborhoods. While all 67 parks in Flint fall under the jurisdiction of the Flint Parks & Recreation Department, Hinds said all of them are near Flint neighborhoods and the Flint residents who live near these parks need to have a stake in them.

"The community members really have to come together and we have to start taking ownership of our parks again," he said. "We have to be the ones that take care of them. We have to be the ones that get the community events going in the parks because if we don't, there isn't anyone to do it."

Hinds added that he wants to hear ideas from the community about similar events that can attract residents to its parks.

"It's cool to be able to come up with a project idea like this and see so many people as receptive as they are and get everyone out here," he said. "The main reason that we're all out here is to get everybody's ideas on how best that we can utilize our open spaces and our parks and all of that information goes right back to the planning commission."

The project, which was funded through grants, cost $1,500, Hinds said.

Flint resident Vanita Singleton came to see the lanterns and brought her children as well. She said she wants to see more events that are free and community and family focused, like this one.

"We need more family oriented stuff in the Flint area," Singleton said. "I would like to see more stuff like this in the Flint area every weekend going on all summer."

Singleton said the event was the first time she had been back to the park since a fatal shooting took place on its tennis court. Events like this, she said, show the park's positive attributes and that "it's getting better."

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