China Lights is back and this time it brought backup.
For its fourth appearance at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park, China Lights, which opened this weekend and runs until Oct. 20, features a regiment of the Terracotta Warriors, who stand proud behind their horses, glowing from inside.
The mostly new show, called "Treasures of China," 95 percent of which is new, has 41 illuminated lantern displays, which you can enjoy in daylight, but which really come alive under the stars.
And with each passing year, the organization of the event has improved, offering a variety of parking options, including free parking with a free shuttle that makes visiting easy.
Here are seven reasons why you won’t want to miss China Lights’ "Treasures of China" at the Boerner Botanical Gardens:
1. Well, the lanterns, of course
These glowing displays are evocative and colorful, playfully depicting animals – even jellyfish! – and Chinese-themed images, including a great one showing a Chinese meal with a rainbow of tea arching from pot to cup. The lights on the bog walk boardwalk are especially cool.
2. Two stages of evening entertainment
From dancers to acrobats to gymnasts and more, the entertainment on the stages is a big draw and much of it – especially the jugglers and hand-standers – will have you gaping in awe. There’s also a parade daily at 6:15 p.m. at the Dragon Stage.
3. Not one, but three giant dragons
One of the returning favorites is the giant dragon, which is flanked by two smaller, but still impressive, colleagues.
While there are some dino lanterns, the animatronic dinosaurs upon which children can perch for photos are not to be missed by families with little ones.
Because, come on, is it China Lights without pandas? (Sorry, pandas are not real)
Two food areas offer a variety of snacks and refreshments from stir-frys with lo-mein noodles, crab rangoon, egg rolls and the like, to pretzels, kettle corn and cheese curds.
7. Glow swings
Just outside the exit of the show you'll find a couple sets of glow swings. Go ahead, you know you wanna.
For information on tickets and hours, visit ChinaLights.org.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.