Lantern walk lights up downtown saratoga

September 23, 2008 — by Maggie Lin

The usually deserted downtown was crowded with small groups of people. Students dressed in red gestured to different stores while the sound of traditional Chinese instruments blew sweet melodies over downtown. Children dressed in Chinese robes giggled with excitement, paper lanterns dangling from their wrists.

This unusual scene took place on Sept. 13 at the second annual Lantern Walk, held in downtown Saratoga. Approximately 100 volunteers, over 50 of which were high school students, served as tour guides of the downtown to visitors. The high number of high school volunteers can be attributed to the points given by Chinese teachers Mariam Fan and Sarah Tseng.

“The Lantern walk [is] an activity that has to do with culture and we want to encourage students to join Chinese related activities inside and outside the classroom,” Fan said. Many students of Fan’s and Tseng’s Chinese classes decided to volunteer at the Lantern Walk in order to earn extra participation points.

Although there were so many volunteers, the tour guides had little time to rest.

“I thought we would have a lot of sitting down time because there were so many volunteers, but there were enough people that came to the tour that all the volunteers were constantly taking groups on tours,” said Lee.

The tour guides led the visitors to 29 different stores, starting with the Book-Go-Round and ending with Lupretta’s Delicatessan. Each stop took around 10 minutes, and the tour guides waited for their groups at each stop. Each store also prepared small gifts for the tourists, including fortune cookies, and smoothie samples.

Although the event, held from 4-6 P.M., offered a lot to the visitors, there were still some issues that needed to be worked out.
“There were some [guides] who had no idea what they were doing, and it made them look bad,“ said junior Connie Chiou.

Despite these issues, however, the Lantern Walk was a success because attendance from visitors living in nearby cities increased, and event coordination was improved.

“This year I think the [coordinators] put more effort into it and had more students join to help,” said Fan.