Lanterns bring light, joy to Shelby
Brian Clark, Julie Clark, Rodger Perry, Maria Padgett and Jonathan Davis all gather at J-Bird's on Thursday evenings and work on old lanterns.

Nearly every Thursday, the early fall darkness is broken by the warm glow of lanterns set up on the table outside J-Bird’s Deli & Ales in Shelby. There is an old green, gasoline table lamp that was used in rural areas not yet reached by electricity, a limited edition Burgundy Coleman lantern, a Vietnam War era military lantern and one cobbled together from a variety of parts that span nearly 100 years.

Each week for the past five years, a group of friends gather for what they have dubbed “lantern fest,” in an attempt to ward off the cold and darkness as well as keep ancient rituals alive.

Maria Padgett, one of the members, said they begin in the fall, but it gains momentum over the winter as the daylight hours grow shorter and people gravitate toward sources of light.