Holding a lantern festival in Greene County is a stellar idea, but the Friar Tuck Inn in Kiskatom, as it stands, is not the place to have it.

A group of applicants wants to stage the Hello Panda Lantern Festival in Catskill.

A lantern festival, also known as a Yuan Xiao festival, celebrates a holiday in China and other Asian countries that honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. During a traditional festival, houses are decorated with colorful lanterns with riddles written on them. If the riddle is solved correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. Small rice balls filled with fruits and nuts, called yuanxiao or tangyuan, are served at the festival. The balls’ round shape symbolizes family unity.

But the old Friar Tuck is in bad shape. The site is in significant disrepair and presents dangerous conditions. The site also contains several dilapidated structures and the buildings on or contiguous to the site are condemned, unsecured or dangerous. Adjacent parcels are littered with glass, debris, tiles, shingles and wood.

This is a pity because the Hello Panda Lantern Festival, featuring more than 120 lantern exhibits, is considered the largest of its kind in North America, according to the website hellopandafest.com. The festival will be held at Citi Field in Queens, the home of the New York Mets, from Dec. 6 through Jan. 26, and at Lake Glenwood in Vernon, New Jersey, through Jan. 5.

What a shot in the arm a big festival like this would be to pump fresh blood into the Twin Counties’ economy and attract visitors from the region and perhaps the world. We know the crowds at Citi Field won’t be restricted only to New Yorkers. We hope the Hello Panda applicants don’t give up on Greene County and can find a suitable alternate site in Catskill. A lantern festival is supposed to promote reconciliation, peace and forgiveness. Our message here is simple: Give peace a chance.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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