"LANTERNS" AT WILDWOOD . . . | A Damsel in Distress





Leave it to Cliff Baker, formerly of The Rep, to pull off another stellar Little Rock fund-raiser successfully disguised as an Event!


Yes, “Lanterns” at Wildwood this weekend!

I was there, of course, but so spectacularly successful was it that absolutely NOBODY paid the least attention to me.


Billed as Arkansas’ only “Mid-Winter Festival”, or something, held at the Wildwood Center for the Performing Arts, or the Center for the Performing Arts at Wildwood, or the Performing Center for the Arts at Wildwood or whatever . . . that place off Kanis you can never find because the signs are too small and so you wind up in Ferndale if you’re not careful . . . (Lucy, COME BACK!) . . . Baker pulled off a magnificent weekend for families and friends young and old . . . with thousands of lanterns from all lands, flying high and lying low, lining paths around the lake and pavilions – including TWO moons!




Yes, only Cliff Fannin Baker (the only man who ever turned Norma down after six mai-tais – MY ticket – at Cajun’s) could have thought this up from his fertile brain and pulled it off so spectacularly.


Cliff and I (or “Effin” as I affectionately call him) are still dear friends, naturally. I congratulated him on drawing over 1,900 guests Saturday, and another 900-1000+ Sunday.


Cliff’s just a great big white polar bear and you want to bury yourself in his fur. But there were children around.


So he beamed, “You know, we’d have been happy with 900 people or so for the weekend. So this is really an incredible turnout!”


As well “Lanterns” should be. It’s one of those genius events that’s an instant success and will forever outlive both Cliff and Norma long after we’ve joined that Bus-and-Truck company of “Annie” in the sky.




NOBODY has seen an event like this in Little Rock!


It’s not the circus, it’s not a concert at Robinson’s, it’s not a rodeo, it’s not RiverFest.


It’s luminaria lining the paths, and horses – including a Clydesdale-drawn carriage – and music, and Victorian ladies and gentlemen reading from Dickens, and food, and wine, and “Make-a-Wish” floating magic lanterns you launch with a dream and watch glide across the lake, and fortune-tellers . . .


(Yes, eLwood, I too was disturbed by the long line of children waiting to have their fortunes told by the turbaned lady in the tent. “I see you ascending to a high level of politics . . . the Senate, maybe . . . then being arrested for sucking a hooker’s toes in the Marriott . . . thank you, Melvin. That’s all I see.” Then watching nine-year-old Melvin straggle back to Mom and Dad going, “What does she mean ‘sucking toes!’ What th- ?”


That and the fact that I didn’t see ONE SINGLE BLACK PERSON, except for the two uniformed Security Guards on Kanis.


I’m not from here. Weird.


Thanks – a hundred times thanks – to By-Lites (among the other sponsors) for making “Lanterns” the unique and hugely successful annual event it has instantly become.


And to Cliff Fannin Baker and the Board and the hundreds of volunteers and sponsors who made “Lanterns” work – out of the gate.




Some draw exclusionary shades on Life and Love, I guess.


Other people light the world.



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