Seven giant puppets in the shapes of endangered animal species will snake their way through Siem Reap City Saturday night, carried by the 500 children who created them as part of a program that mixed art and the environment.
Held for the ninth consecutive year, the Giant Puppet Parade will include a marching band, local musicians and artists from the circus company Phare Ponleu Selpak, said Bina Hanley, the project’s spokesperson, who estimated that close to 1,000 people would take part in the procession.
The children will carry the puppets they built earlier this month, each one representing an endangered species found in Cambodia. “They will range from an endangered local Mekong fish to the Oriental Bay Owl, which is indigenous to Phnom Kulen [in Siem Reap Province],” Ms. Hanley said.
Along with the endangered animals will be a massive goat, as the Chinese New Year holiday this week ushered in the Year of the Goat.
The children, who are part of programs run by 15 NGOs that work with disadvantaged communities, took two days to build each puppet out of paper and rattan, Ms. Hanley said. They worked in teams of about 70, assisted by 15 art students from the Phare Ponleu Selpak’s art school in Battambang City and six foreign volunteer artists.
Once done, the students from Battambang installed lights inside the puppets with the help of electricians and added wheels to make the animals easier to steer during the parade. An environmental conservation expert also joined the work sessions to give some information about the animals the children were constructing.
The parade on Saturday will begin at Siem Reap’s Old Market at 7 p.m., pass through the old town and make its way along the river road, ending at the Royal Independence Gardens in front of the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor.