Spotlighting history: Westfield to conduct inaugural Lantern Days at Grand Junction Plaza 

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The first citywide event at Grand Junction Plaza, Latern Days, will shine a light on Westfield’s history and offer a glimpse of the future. 

Honoring the city’s founders is a major part of the two-day event.  

“It’s kind of a transformation of our Voices From the Past event that we used to do,” Community Events Coordinator Kelley Wells said. “We decided to revitalize it since we are opening up the plaza. It’ll be our first real large-scale event in the plaza, so we thought it would be fitting to kick it off with a founders’ day event.” 

Voices From the Past was an annual living history walk that that was presented from 2011 to 2018.

Westfield was founded May 6, 1834. This year, May 6 falls on a Friday and will be the first day of the two-day event. The Fun Factor Band will perform a free concert from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 6 at Grand Junction Plaza. Food trucks will be on-site. On May 7, Lantern Days will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

“This is the actual Lantern Days event with several different attractions,” Wells said. 

Lantern Days will feature historical reenactments with Westfield Playhouse actors portraying the city’s founders. Reenactments will be at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the wetland amphitheater on the east side of the creek at Grand Junction Plaza. 

“Another big thing is the Lantern Story Stations. There will be four to six story stations,” Wells said. “These will be organizations like the Westfield Friends church, Union Bible College, the Old Friends Cemetery and the Westfield Washington Historical Society talking about the history of their organization or their building or their landmark. They will give a background on the historical roots and why it is still relevant today.”
Story stations will be designated with 3-foot tall lanterns displayed by each station.

“Lantern Days is a nod to our historical roots, not only as far as the Underground Railroad goes but also the actual railroad because Grand Junction was the crossing of the Monon and the Midland,” Wells said. “We wanted to reference our history with those two major things.”

There will be craft stations with steel quill pen-and-ink sets for people to practice writing. There will be paper kites to make and fly in the plaza. A petting zoo will include a mini horse, chickens, rabbits and a pig. 

There also will be a family time capsule craft area. 

“People can take small Polaroid pictures of their child or family and then there’s a postcard that catalogs 2022 and where we’re at,” Westfield Welcome Director Kayla Arnold said. “On the flip side, there are questions the kids and family can answer. They’re take-home time capsules.” 

“They can decide when they want to open that and look back on what they wrote,” Wells said. 

There will be food vendors and retail vendors. Retail vendors are Alex and Andy with pet bandanas and pet supplies; Clay Sweet Clay with handmade jewelry; Singing Land Fibers with handmade knitted items; Spectrum Stitches & Sundry with handmade crochet items; Wandering Peacock with handmade pottery items; and Bryony Eco-Floristry with flower bouquets.

Lantern Days visitors can take a self-guided walking tour, led by a downloadable guide on the city’s website. 

“They can download it to their phone and walk around downtown Westfield,” Wells said. “The (mobile) guide gives a history on the buildings, homes and landmarks, things like that.”

Lantern Days is presented by Stacey Sobczak and COMPASS Realty and supported by Wilhelm Construction. For more, visit westfieldwelcome.com/lantern-days. 

A parking map for the event.

Where to park 

Public parking is available in the gravel lot directly east of Grand Junction Plaza; in the parking lot at the southwest corner of Poplar Street and Park Street; at Union Bible College at 434 S. Union St.; and in designated on-street spots.

A courtesy golf cart shuttle will be available the Poplar and Park Street lot and at Union Bible College. A parking map can be found at tinyurl.com/2p9av5db.

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