by Rob Tilling
This year’s In The Park After Dark (ITPAD) event in March was the most successful so far, with Balsall Heath Park seeing its fourth “late winter” celebration organised by its active Friends group. Since 2007 the event has developed and expanded to include a number of separate strands.
New for 2010 was the illuminated, animated robot (also the Friends committee chair) who acted as a master-of-ceremonies for the evening, letting people know when and where activities were taking place. This was a rather busy task, with a lot to pack into the evening.
The main focus of the evening was the delightful shadow puppet performance choreographed by children from Anderton Park School. They had worked for several weeks preceding the event to develop a story and puppets, which would entertain and engage their audience. Accordion music was provided to accompany the show and a spell-bound audience watched in wonder as “The Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly” was retold through this unusual medium. Over 150 people attended the event and almost all of these huddled around the shadow puppet show as the show began.
Keith Montiero Teacher at Anderton Park School who helped with some of the preparations said of the event, “It was so worth while the children got so much out of it.” Young puppeteer, Summayah aged 10 from the school said, “It was just great, I enjoyed everything about it, it was just good.”
Salik aged 10 went on to say, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It was great making the puppets because we had to think about it. When we did the performance everybody liked it so it was worth it.”
Following the show there was a procession around the park of illuminated people bearing paper lanterns aloft. Many lanterns had been themed upon the shadow puppet story, including a horse, a cat and a spider. These glowing creatures followed a dancing monkey as it performed to music from Balsall Heath Park’s very own barrel organ. Lantern-making had taken place the week before the park event in Anderton Park School using willow, tape, tissue paper and PVA glue – simple materials, but able to create a stunning effect.
Throughout the evening there were a range of glowing, flashing, shining and glimmering activities taking place including (illuminated) juggling, (flashing) Frisbee games and (glowing) football games. To keep out the cold and replace energy burned off from running around there was a very fine lentil soup available to all.
Activities, shows and food were all provided free of charge as were the glowing objects handed out to event visitors and participants. These glowing objects, including bracelets and necklaces, created a superb impression of active fun when looked at from a distance.
ITPAD seems to be lucky with the weather every year and in 2010 the whole evening was beautiful, dry, clear and starry. This did lead to a little chilliness but there was soup available to keep everyone warm!
In 2010 ITPAD was funded by Grassroots Grants
If you would like to become involved in the Friends of Balsall Heath Park then please call 07806557509. An AGM will be held at Anderton Park School on April 25th and there will be an opportunity to join the committee.