Friday is GR's first Filipino lantern (Parol) celebration

Dec 14, 2017

Filipino Grandrapidian holding large, red Parol with comet tails
Credit Ace Marasigan

 Picture a walkway lined with star-shaped lanterns, made by hand out of bamboo and brightly-colored cellophane, that light the way to church for the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve. That’s a new event in Grand Rapids that the Filipino Cultural Group of Michigan hopes to make a city tradition.

“You know, in the Philippines the symbol of that parol is so meaningful, it symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, but it’s also a tradition because in 1908 this guy named Francisco (he’s the first guy who started this tradition), it was a way to light up a way to church.

That’s Ace Marasigan one of the organizers. He says the event will start at 5:30 with a lighting of the lanterns, and a parade from the Old National Bank office, 161 Monroe, to the sister-city promenade at the JW Marriot only two blocks away. The idea is that everyone is invited in the spirit of traditional Christmas celebrations in the Philippines. Here’s another organizer, Alma Reed’s, memory of it.

“My experience when I was there, was we invited neighbors to come to the house, we didn’t care who they are. We see them, we invite them to the house, and eat with us and just have fun and welcome the Christmas day. Because the birth of Jesus, we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, and we are thankful for that.”

So, if you want to light the way to Christmas with your Filipino neighbors, in Grand Rapids, go to Old National Bank, that’s 161 Monroe, on December 15th at 5:30 for the Parol Celebration and Parade.