Central Taiwan Lantern Festival has become more and more popular year by year. Today Mayor Hu first showed the Mickey Lantern and described his mood as worried, but happy. He forecasts a new record of visitor numbers this year, surpassing the Taiwan Lantern Festival hosted by the central government. Taichung City Government invited the PouChen Group (the shoe-making king) to support the Central Taiwan Lantern Festival, and expected to distribute 300,000 Mickey Lanterns. In order to avoid the long waiting line as before, the Government has designed 5 different locations to provide free lanterns at different time periods, facilitating kids all over Taiwan to have opportunities to hold his or her own Mickey Lanterns.
According to Mayor Hu, lantern festivals in Taiwan are usually divided into 2 types, local government hosting and central government hosting. Since 2003, the central government’s lantern site moved around Taiwan, and the first year was in Taichung City where the Goat Year lantern attracted 6.4 million visitors. He described the popularity of that year as “walking in the crowd like taking an elevator, you cannot completely control the speed and the direction.” Taichung City conducted local-style festivals in the consequent years, including Snoopy lantern of 2006, Piglet of 2007, and Mickey of 2008. Each year the Festival experienced a new peak, and thus Mayor forecasted this year would break the record and exceed Taiwan Lantern Festival in Tainan.
Mayor Hu stated that the Roundness Theater was the only location distributing Piglet Lanterns last year. Last year, the Festival attracted 3.5 million visitors, almost equal to that of the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Chaiyi, but the Taichung City Government only spent 10-20 % of expenditures used for Taiwan Lantern Festival, which is very obvious for its competitiveness in terms of cost and benefit. This year, the Taiwan Lantern Festival has spread over 75 thousand mouse lanterns; however, the holding lanterns usually distributed to kids were most familiar with Mickey Mouse. In 2006, the Taichung City Government initiated the contract with Disney for product authorization, and the supporting enterprises were invited to spend for 300,000 lanterns, just equal to the household number in Taichung City. It was twice the number from last year, and has become the top provider all over Taiwan, in anticipation of avoiding the long wait and getting nothing.
Director Chen of the Department of Information said that the Central Taiwan Lantern Festival started at midnight of Feb. 14th (Jan. 9th of Lunar Calendar), which is also the birthday of the Heaven God, and spanned to Feb. 24th for 11 days. The lantern exhibitions are mainly in Wenhsin Forest Park and Taichung Park. In the former, the first-built dual main lanterns are 15-meter-high Mickey and Mini, who will join and hug each other respectively from left and right sides of the stage by sliding on the trail to symbolize peace and harmony.
In addition to the main lantern, the showcase of DisneyLand inviting Mickey, Mini, and their good friends, including Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto will be present. Eleven sets of cartoon characters, associated with innovative lantern, art lighting, light tunnel, and arch and gallery lanterns, creates a colorful show. At 7pm of Feb. 15th, the lantern night will be held, and on Feb. 21st, the evening party will be held to invite famous singers to celebrate the Festival. February 24th will mark the closing party, and will also have some other singers, water dancing and fireworks shows. The continuous 10 days of the Festival celebration will keep your eyes busy on watching.
In Taichung Park, the romantic water dancing shows, decorated with shining lights, are singing with the Spring. Added with the decoration art exhibitions, the Park is enhanced for art atmosphere. Lighting parties at 19 PM of Feb. 16th, as well as the laser lighting and water dancing shows each half hour from 7 to 10 PM between Feb. 15th and 24th , reflecting on the water mirror of water pavilions, has turned the Park into a wonderland.
In order to scatter the crowd, the Department has planned for 5 distribution spots. The event supporter, PouChen Group, distributed lanterns in front of their headquarter building from 12:30 to13:30 and from 16:00 to 17:00 on Feb. 4th , 5th 12th, and 24th . Limited by the number, every distribution section of these 4 days will only provide 88 units, one for each person.
In Wenhsin Forest Park, lining up will be allowed at 5PM, to start distribution at 6PM between Feb. 15th and 21st , and 2 spots for distribution services include the crossing of Wenhsin Rd. and Siangshang Rd., as well as the crossing between Huewen Rd. and TaDung 7th St. In Taichung Park, the boarding dock is the only distribution spot, and each person is limited to take 1 lantern. On Feb. 21st (the day of the Lantern Festival), free distributions will be initiated from 5PM at 2 spots, Taichung Rail Station and Taching Station, which are limited to 2,000 and 3,000 respectively.