Giant Puppets to Parade Through The Streets of Siem Reap City

About 500 children will take part in “The Giant Puppet Street Pa­rade” on Saturday night in Siem Reap city, where they will walk alongside eight huge puppets.

By the time the children march from the Old Market to the gardens of the Raffles Grand Hotel, where they will be greeted with music and dance, their number is expected to swell to more than 1,000 people as friends and families join in, said Bina Hanley, the project’s communication manager.

Made from rattan and paper, the multicolored puppets measure be­tween 10 and 30 meters in height and will be illuminated with lights for the parade, which starts at 7 p.m.

Held for the sixth consecutive year, the parade is part of an education-through-art project for disadvantaged children involving 15 NGOs in and around Siem Reap city.

The Giant Puppet project was launched in 2007 by British architect Stuart Cochlin, who lives in Siem Reap, and British artist James Coch­rane who spends a month in Cam­bodia each year to organize the event.

This month, Mr. Cochrane gave a workshop to Phare Ponleu Sel­pak’s art students in Bat­tambang city, and then returned to Siem Reap city to hold puppet-building sessions for the 500 children with the help of six Phare art students.

Before making the giant puppets, NGOs pick a theme based on the educational message they want to convey. Those messages can range from road safety to hygiene or fitness, Ms. Hanley explained.

Students from the Provincial Teach­er Training College and the Global Child organization helped their group of children to build a Bengal Florican, an en­dangered bird species. While they were building the puppet, the children were visited by an environmentalist who talked about the threats against the species and pointed out the beauty of the florican’s natural habitat.

Each year, one of the puppets is made just for fun: This time, it’s a friendly scorpion painted blue, orange and yellow, Ms. Hanley said.

Puppets will also include a Chi­nese water dragon, a Khmer scholar, an Asian elephant and two Cam­bodian martial-art bokator athletes.

Children will walk through Siem Reap with their creations on Sat­ur­day night and, if previous years are any indication, an en­thusiastic crowd will cheer them on, Ms. Han­ley said.

The puppets will remain on display in the gardens of the Raffles Grand Hotel along the river until Tuesday.



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