"But what do I actually do
as a Lamplighter?" you ask. Great question! There are three roles as the procession moves throughout the city in a beautiful, meaningful dance:
is not just for big, burly men. Plenty of women carry, plenty of older folks carry, and I've been told we've even had a few kids in the 12-14 age range carry as well. A fully-loaded lantern-carrying pole is about 40 pounds/18 kg (six lanterns per side) and it gets lighter as the lifters remove lanterns along the way. The flow of the procession revolves around the steady advance of the lines of carriers. I've carried twice on the longest route without much trouble. It's very zen: you walk slowly, focused entirely on your task.
If you volunteer for support
, you play the attentive problem-solver. There is a small chance a carrier will be asked to replace a tired carrier. Otherwise, support is focused on keeping the lanterns lit with well-adjusted flames, on keeping the carriers comfortable (goggles on/off, giving water, pairing up with another support person to hold the ends of the carrying pole to give the carrier a quick shoulder-rotating break, etc.), and on helping the lifters keep track of where to take the next lantern from. Because the support role is less physically demanding, it's great for those who can walk with us but might have trouble with their back/neck/arms in other roles.
do the most walking as they move to pick up a lantern from a carrier, proceed forward out of the processional line to the lamppost, lift the lantern, and then come to the back of the line to get another lantern. While being a carrier is a time to look inside yourself, lifting is all about working in unison with your partner and the other lifters. Unfortunately, being short is a disadvantage for lifters.
I love being a part of the procession to light the city and recommend it to every burner. We have robes for kids!
There is no sign-up, just show up! I recommend coming a bit before 5pm (4pm on Saturday) - last year we had so many volunteers we were sad we had to turn down some walk-ins. There is a procession every night, Sunday to Sunday.
When he lights his streetlamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower.
When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep.
That is a beautiful occupation.
- Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry