You could be forgiven for thinking we Newporters hibernate all winter with nothing to do. You would be sorely mistaken, however, as winter activities abound here, including one of my glittery favorites, the Annual Illuminated Garden at Ballard Park which will take place February 21st, 22nd and 23rd from 6:00 – 9:00 PM.
Ballard Park is Newport’s only nature Preserve. It is supported by an active non-profit group, and every February the Friends of Ballard Park collect old Christmas lights, yards of extension cords, lampshades and other artsy materials in preparation for a really big outdoor show. Local school groups, companies, artists, teachers and, well, just about anybody who wants to create a dazzling light display, work like crazy to transform the 3-acre quarry / meadow / rock face into a secret illuminated garden.
The geography at Ballard Park provides a wonderful canvas with a 30-foot rock wall, meadow and vernal pond (a temporary pool of water providing habitat for distinctive animals and plants). One year, Frank Dwyer of Stagecraft Sound & Lighting used the rock wall as a giant projection screen, and area students lit up packing tape sculptures, metal installations, icy statuary and more for the 3 day festival. Each year the displays get a little more elaborate, and this 8th Illuminated Garden promises to raise the bar higher than ever before.
Right now, the Friends of BP are collecting materials. If you have working holiday lights, shades, fabric, props or other colorful things that would shine in this environment, drop them off at Friends of Ballard Park’s office — 226 Bellevue Avenue #10 Monday – Fridays from 10 to 5 pm. You’ll support a wonderful artistic endeavor, and you’ll even get a receipt for a tax deduction!
If you go, don’t miss the Igloo currently under construction by Erika Klinkhammer and students from 3 Newport elementary schools who are constructing their creation using recycled milk and water containers.
If you’re artistic and not afraid of a little wintery weather, think about making your own display. The deadline for entries is February 1st, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan. To learn more about artist registration, guidelines and details call Friends of Ballard Park at 401-619-3377 or visit them on the web at www.ballardpark.org.