What started as a Valentine’s Day surprise is becoming a much-loved community event. Volunteers are training this year to help Lynnhurst residents Jennifer and Tom Hedberg assemble ice lanterns to light the creek between Lake Harriet and 49th Street.
Jennifer is the artist behind the business Wintercraft, where she creates ice luminaries and decorates homes. She said the first creekwalk at least six years ago was a spur-of-the-moment idea.
“Our yard is filled with all of my base experiments and extra ice that didn’t get sold,” she said. “One year, we just decided to do it. Don’t tell anybody, just do it. A ding-dong-dash.”
The second year of the creekwalk, the Hedbergs were discovered by passersby as they assembled the lanterns. By the third year, people were disappointed if they missed it. When they posted the creekwalk information online, many more walkers arrived. Someday, the Hedbergs hope to extend the luminaries farther down the creek.
“For now, it’s our contribution to living in a great spot,” Tom said.
The exact date of the creekwalk is always weather-dependent, but it tends to fall in mid-February.
“We like it to be a middlemoon,” Tom said. “The full moons get all the attention.”
This year, the Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association is spreading the word to find volunteers, and resident Janelle Nivens is coordinating volunteers and training sessions. To make a basic globe lantern, volunteers can fill a balloon with water, place it outside to freeze, and cut away the balloon while the core is still unfrozen, allowing the water to gush out the bottom.
Jennifer said she’s very grateful for the help. She had a benign brain tumor removed in 2015. The tumor impacted her ability to walk and hear, and she likened the symptoms to that of a concussion. While she’s healthy today, her balance and strength isn’t the same. She thought long and hard about whether to continue the creekwalk in the year following the operation. But she said help from family and friends has kept it going.
“I find people to lift things for me,” she said. “…If I had 10 more people like [my neighbor] Mary, we could light up the whole creek.”
Jennifer is currently writing a book on ice luminaries, and she lights other parts of town as well. She recently asked her blog readers for suggestions on who to surprise with a guerilla luminary installation.
“Tom and I have always loved to give ice lanterns as gifts to friends and neighbors during the dark winter months, but how could we extend that gesture further out into the world?” she wrote.
Acting on a reader’s suggestion, she lit a pathway in December for Simpson Housing Services’ Homeless Memorial March and Service.
“It’s really been heartwarming,” Tom said. “There is something magical about light in wintertime.”
To view photographer Stephen L. Garrett’s images from the 2016 creekwalk, visit mnphotojournal.com.