From left to right: Girl Scouts Simone Shenoi, Anahita Najafian and Molly Dudley display the lanterns they designed for the Island Lanterns community art project. Courtesy photo

From left to right: Girl Scouts Simone Shenoi, Anahita Najafian and Molly Dudley display the lanterns they designed for the Island Lanterns community art project. Courtesy photo

Let there be lanterns on the Island

City lights up outdoor community art project.

Local Girl Scouts are displaying their appreciation for Mercer Island’s surroundings through their involvement in the city’s Island Lanterns community art project.

Girl Scout Cadet Troop 44295/45358 linked up with the city, Mercer Island Visual Arts League, Mercer Island Chinese Association, Mercer Island Arts Council and the Mercer Island High School Art Club to the bring the project to life through a 4Culture grant.

Participants were set to fill parts of the city with their colorful, ingenious and lighted outdoor lanterns beginning Feb. 12. Community members can get involved by visiting:

The city aims to use arts and culture to inspire the community, support local businesses and activate Mercer Island Town Center in a socially distant manner during the pandemic, said Sarah Bluvas, the city’s economic development coordinator. The organizers also hope to tie Chinese New Year into the project.

The scouts’ involvement in the lantern project is part of their Silver Award program, which began with an outdoor journey of primitive camping, trailblazing and night owl badges.

Troop leader Jennifer Dudley added that through this “take action” project, the girls — ages 13 to 14 — can “leverage their experience outdoors as both a source of inspiration for designing their individual lanterns and a background in practical skills for constructing and lighting a display that can withstand local weather elements.”

The girls — Anahita Najafian, Molly Dudley, Lise Weller and Simone Shenoi — noted that the inspiration for their lanterns came from the ducks and birds at the calming and picturesque Ellis Pond; the great outdoors, including the orcas found in Puget Sound; and the beautiful city lights and alluring stars scattered throughout the sky.

Visual arts league artist and volunteer Carol Whitaker said she was drawn to “the idea of light during this dark time of year and these sober COVID-19 restricted times.”

She said this project can evoke optimism and engage and connect people in a safe and joyful way.

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