Lantern Walk organiser Vera David thought she was going to have about 200 people involved in the inaugural Lakeside Lantern Walk which formed part of the Merimbula Jazz Festival but as dusk fell on Spencer Park it became evident that many more had fallen in love with the idea of a lantern walk.
"Over 1000 people took part in the Lantern Walk, probably the greatest number of people walking in Merimbula town centre at night, except maybe on New Year's Eve," Ms David said.
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For months Ms David had worked with schools and kindergartens in the making of lanterns and at Merimbula Public School it was incorporated into the school's Japanese studies.
There was an extra-ordinary number and variety of lanterns on display.
At Spencer Park Sam and Jesse from Brothers OnFire were on stilts with illuminated gossamer wings which wowed everyone. As the night got darker, their wings shone through even more brightly. Many were surprised to see the Merimbula Water Dragons on the water in their illuminated boat.
"It's probably the only lantern walk in the world with a land and water component," Ms David said.
A long line of lanterns led by town crier Alan Moyse snaked their way along Beach Street and on arrival at Market Street were entertained by music and the Brothers OnFire.
The road closure for the afternoon and early evening was a first and proved a winner for those retailers and food vendors who stayed open. The charity groups were also winners with the Anglican Church cake and slice stall taking over $1000 from late morning to early afternoon.
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Chamber president Lynn McColl said a couple of retailers reported their best day for a couple of years and the Malaysian Restaurant was standing room only following the arrival of the Lantern Walk. Sue Wilkie at the Boardwalk Cafe said they were very busy from 9am through into the afternoon.
Both the Lantern Walk and the road closure on Market Street are expected to take place again next year.