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The lanterns for the second installment of Boerner Botanical Gardens' "China Lights" festival have arrived.

Lanterns for a new year of "China Lights" await polishing

Visitors to the Boerner Botanical Gardens this summer have been greeted with an explosion of color upon arrival, and it's not just the garden's flower beds providing the rainbow.

Just north of the Boerner parking lot in Whitnall Park, next to the Trial Garden, is a fenced-in area filled with what might look like the remnants of last year's explosively successful "China Lights" lantern festival.

The event, which drew overflow crowds even on chilly fall nights, that it had to be extended. "China Lights" return this fall for another go-round, Sept. 22-Oct. 22.

That explains why the gardens would, conceivably, save the lanterns, which appear to be constructed out of metal frames covered in colorful fabric.

But, in fact, these are not the lanterns from last year's "China Lights" festival at Boerner.

Don't worry, the panda will be just fine.

"The lanterns behind the fence are the new lanterns," says Boerner Botanical Gardens Director Shirley Dommer Walczak. "They were shipped in from other shows. These are the lanterns that will be part of the show for this fall. They will have new fabric put on them and placed in the garden."

The lanterns in the staging area are the property of Tyanyu, the exhibition company that organizes "China Lights," Walczak says.

The show has been touring the country since its last appearance here. Chinese artisans will arrive in August to begin fixing up the lanterns, some of which are torn or otherwise damaged from use and transportation, and they will start being moved into the gardens at that time.

Though the name is the same, this year's event will be different, Walczak adds.

"All the lanterns will be new ones except for two. The dragon will return and the kylins – lions with the glass vials. So it will be a whole new show. We have also added more lanterns also."

This dragon, and one other lantern, will return from last year's show.

In addition, Walczak says, there will be expanded entertainment, with an additional stage and more food vendors, expanding the menu options.

"Our showpiece will be a porcelain tower that will be built in front of the Visitor Center starting in August. It is made of all porcelain plates, cups and saucers and will be over 40 feet tall.

"It is exciting to bring this show to Milwaukee again this fall," says Walczak.


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