HUMBOLDT PARK — Those who find themselves at the Humboldt Park Lagoon Friday and Saturday night will be treated to some strange sights — a whale stranded on an island in the lagoon, a hot-air balloon traveler who has landed in the trees, and a “lost” moon that glides across the water and sings lullabies.
It is all part of the “New Moon and the Lagoon” performance being put on by Opera-Matic, a group of artists that strives to “bring visual arts to the streets” and “activate public spaces for community engagement through people-powered sound, story and interaction.”
Led by Humboldt Park resident Mark Messing — co-founder of the “circus punk marching band” Mucca Pazza — Opera-Matic artists and other volunteers will lead a light parade with flashlights that will take participants past the various sights around the lagoon.
The spectacle will draw on the theme of migration and the history of Humboldt Park, as well as lullabies, which will be sung in English and Spanish by participants and performers alike as they march in the light parade.
Messing, 56, said the inspiration for the lullaby theme came from the drifting sounds of ice cream trucks traveling through neighborhood streets.
“I've always wanted to do something to kind of compete with the ice cream trucks at night,” he said. “I love how they play music and bring ice cream in the evening, but I thought it'd just be nice to have something that would be purely musical and have something that would be a lullaby just before kids go to sleep.”
Volunteers will lead the singing, and participants will get a songbook to help them along.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own flashlights, though Messing said organizers will have extras on hand.
Other attractions along the parade route will be “Lull-A-Bikes" — bicycle floats built by artists and West Town Bikes staff — and a puppet show performed from inside the “stranded” whale.
“I’m very excited,” Messing said. “I think it might be a little bigger than I thought.”
This will be Opera-Matic’s first engagement of this scale, though organizers have taken some of their floats and sculptures out for impromptu parades before.
They enlisted several local groups to help out with the event, holding a series of workshops to teach the kids and volunteers the lullabies so they can help lead the parade.
The schools and organizations include the Youth Service Project, Association House, Duprey Elementary School, Ames Middle School, Youth Making a Difference and the Block Club Federation.
“We're working on ways to transform public spaces into a way for our community to participate in the arts and looking for ways the arts can be a service for the community, so this is a big learning experience for us,” Messing said.
Attendees should gather at the Humboldt Park Lagoon at 7:30 p.m. Friday, where they will receive a songbook and flashlight if they didn't bring their own.
The parade will launch from the boathouse at 8 p.m.