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Handmade Parade & Fireworks!

Last week, we celebrated Independence Day the best way we know how: with all of you! We kicked off the evening with the traditional Handmade Parade, followed by ice cream for all, picnicking on the lawn, and an impressive fireworks display at dark. A more extensive album of photographs is available to view here; below, we share a few of our favorite shots that encapsulate what we love most about this annual celebration.

Community
It’s all the people here, from students and staff to neighbors and visitors from afar, who make this event feel so full of life. Thank you to everyone who joined us for bringing your energy and helping us celebrate!

Color
Bring your red, white, and blue—and your orange, green, brown, pink, and purple, too! This parade is in full color.

Passion
A highlight this year was the entry focused on pollution and single-use plastics, including these remarkable plastic bag outfits and a giant sea turtle float. Thank you for reminding us that celebration and action go hand in hand.

Creativity
This wonderful beast was born from some cardboard boxes, a couple sticks, bright paint, and a lot of creative vision. It’s always a treat to see the ideas that are brought to life for the parade.

Camaraderie
The session 3 weaving class stuck close together to walk this giant choreographed loom all the way up Conley Ridge Road.

Dedication
Here’s (part of) our facilities and ground crew, aka the folks who orchestrate the entire fireworks display. They each go through a multi-day certification training, as well as spend days before the event designing the show, getting everything set up, and readying the 20,000 bottle rockets you see here!

Celebration
At the end of the day, it’s not just about the parade or the incredible fireworks. It’s about you all being here together, with us, celebrating the creativity and energy that make this place so special. Bring your ideas, your passions, your friends, and join us on the lawn next year!

 

Thanks to Mercedes Jelinek for taking and sharing the final two images in this post.

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July 4th Celebrations

Every summer, Penland celebrates the 4th of July much like the rest of the country—with picnics, with a parade, with fireworks. But when you get a whole community of creative people together, there are bound to be some extra quirks and flourishes that make the event memorable and uniquely “Penland.” This year was no different, thanks to the enthusiasm and flair of our students, instructors, staff, residents, and community. Here’s a look at some highlights from the most spirited day of the summer:

Picnic-ing in front of the Dye Shed

7:00 PM – Friends and families gathered on blankets and lawn chairs all along the road to chat, enjoy a picnic dinner or a drink, and wait for the festivities.

the head of the parade marches up Conley Ridge Rd

7:34 PM – Here comes the parade! A banner printed with the Declaration of Independence headed up this year’s procession, along with a Statue of Liberty costume, a pretty rad bowtie, and quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, Theodore Roosevelt, and Patrick Henry.

plywood sculptures on parade

7:36 PM – Matthew Hebert’s wood students came marching by with the kinetic plywood sculptures they designed and made this session. There were snipping scissors, a frog with a moving tongue, a stove with flames that swirled as it rolled, an Uncle Sam statue with gesticulating arms, and more.

parade float with rainbows and a giant rat

7:40 PM – This epic float with rainbows and a giant hamster came rolling down the road. Parade entries are a reflection of the passions and priorities of Penland’s community, and pride and “Keep families together” were both recurring themes this year.

La Llorona float approaches with the mountain in the background

7:47 PM – The impressive La Llorona float, a joint effort between Martin Mazorra’s letterpress workshop and Jay Ryan’s screenprinting students, made its way past the knoll. This crew was also responsible for many of the gorgeous posters that were part of this year’s parade.

The fireworks crew brings up with rear in a pickup truck full of bottle rockets

7:54 PM – Penland’s facilities and grounds crew (aka fireworks show magicians) brought up the rear of the parade, along with 20,000 bottle rockets decked out in their rainbow finery.

core fellows serve up ice cream from big cardboard tubs

8:08 PM – Two big carts of vanilla and chocolate ice cream rolled out onto the Pines Portico, and a team of heroic core fellows started speed scooping.

Violet gets a bit messy eating chocolate ice cream

8:10 PM – The youngest members of the Penland community showed us all how to truly enjoy a cone.

the parade award for "Most Sparkliest Artist"

8:15 PM – Awards were given out to parade participants in a variety of silly and less-silly categories including “Over the Rainbow,” “Most Industrious,” “Dirtiest Clothes,” “Most Patriotic,” and “Most Sparkliest Artist.” Each award was handmade by students and instructors in Penland’s workshops.

sunset over the knoll while waiting for fireworks

8:37 PM – More picnicking and relaxing went down on the lawn while the sun set over the mountains. A bonfire burned out on the knoll, ready to ignite the bottle rockets that accompany the end of the fireworks show.

fireworks exploding over the knoll

9:28 PM – The first colorful explosions lit up the sky. Oohs and aahs quickly followed.

two views of Penland's fireworks finale

9:42 PM – The entire Penland campus burst into screams and applause as the fireworks reached their finale and 20,000 bottle rockets shot towards the sky. Dave and his crew really know how to put on a show, and dozens of folks commented that this year’s was the best one yet.

A huge thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate creativity and community with us! Let’s do it again next year.

See even more photos over on our Facebook album of the 2018 parade.

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Photo(s) of the Week: Celebrating the 4th, Penland Style

The following post is a photo slideshow. If you’re looking at it in email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.

The scene on main campus, waiting for the parade
Penland's development team went all out on their recreation of the historic Travelog!
Glitter and rainbows, y'all.
Jean and Jerry's Swan Song
These swans come bearing chocolate.
Miss Lucy Morgan and Miss Edwina Bringle riding along on the Travelog with Joan Glynn behind the wheel
Bringing back the Penland llamas
The one and only Cynthia Bringle, riding the Travelog
Llamas on the knoll!
The Travelog travels on!
Hall of Fame!
A July 4th emergency - wood class to the rescue!
Doug Sigler and his wood class
Bring back the unicorns! Bring back the unicorns!
Paraders of all ages welcome!
Don't thread on me!
A message from the quilt class
A quilted snake from the upper textiles quilting workshop
The Upper Clay Terra Cotta Army
Terra Cotta Army noisemakers
Chapter 1 of the narrative float (more creatures and bubbles to come!)
A wonderful creature (who later adorned the volleyball court)
Kirk, flame juggler
Prime picnic zone
Most Memorable, Most Patriotic, Most Industrious...
Victorious!
The crowd outside the Pines
Ice cream salespeople extraordinaire (aka core fellows)
I scream, you scream

 

The festivities were so much fun that we extended our Independence Day celebrations to two days this year! (Okay, the rain that started around dark on July 4th may have had something to do with it…) The parade featured some impressive entries, including a replica of Penland’s beloved Travelog, a giant unicorn, a quilted snake, a “Swan Song” float by departing director and deputy director Jean McLaughlin and Jerry Jackson, and even a multi-part narrative float by the students in IlaSahai Prouty’s community art workshop. And, despite the 24-hour delay, the fireworks show was an impressive site to behold. Big thanks to the Penland pyrotechnics crew, the parade participants, the trophy makers, the cheering crowds, and everyone else who came out to celebrate July 4th with us!

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: 4th of July Parade!

The following post is a photo slideshow. If you’re looking at it in email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.

Penland students, staff, instructors, friends, and neighbors make the parade a real community event.
The lithography workshop made custom-printed hats for everyone.
It's a party in the U.S.A. on this red truck.
Can you find Tom Spleth in this photo?
Some truly first-rate hats
It's all sunshine and rainbows on this float, which won "Best in Show" at the awards ceremony!
This dragon made a fine (and crafty) addition to the front of the parade.
Even the golf carts got a festive boost of red, white, and blue!
Photographers get loud
That's a glass flag!
Barbara Cooper's class made quite an impressive moving sculpture.
Upper metals takes silverware to a whole new scale.
Is a parade really complete without fire juggling?
King Mark Hewitt on his wheel throne
Pool floaties and a water slide!
Our favorite way to celebrate? Ice cream for all!
Some seriously fierce face painting took place after the parade.
The knoll shining red with the help of some fireworks and a few thousand bottle rockets
ka-boom!

 

Penland’s annual 4th of July celebration actually fell on July 4 this year, and the costumes, floats, and fireworks were definitely up to the occasion. Thanks to all the students, instructors, staff, and everyone in the community who came out, dressed up, and made for such a memorable night. Happy 4th, Penlanders!