By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Taipei City Government yesterday unveiled the main lantern design for the Taipei Lantern Festival, which is to run from Feb. 24 to March 4 in western Taipei — stretching from the North Gate （北門） to Zhonghua Road Sec 1 and the Ximending （西門町） commercial shopping district.
Paying tribute to the Year of the Dog, the main lantern design plays on the theme of “happy magical dogs,” Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲） said.
The display is composed of three Taiwanese dogs symbolizing “going forward, going together and going into the future,” he said.
Ko wished everyone a “prosperous” （旺, wang, a homonym of the Chinese character 汪, representing a dog’s bark） new year, filled with happines.
“Go, go, go!” he said, playing on the Chinese character for “dog” （gou, 狗）.
Mori Chen （陳政守）, the lantern’s designer, said that the three gold, silver and red 5m-tall dogs holding hands with oceanic totems symbolizes the Chinese culture that crossed the Strait to Taiwan and people gathered in Taiwan from different places.
The totems, from Ketagalan Aboriginal culture, symbolize passion and connecting the past with the future, Chen said.
Ko said there would be two main lanterns this year, with the “happy magical dogs” on display in Ximending and another main lantern at the renovated Taipei Summer Universiade cauldron, which will be moved to the North Gate where visitors can see it while visiting historical buildings in the area.
Other smaller lantern display areas will showcase the works of Taiwanese designers, including many young ones, he said.
Asked about this year’s main lantern design, Ko said it was more balanced, unlike last year’s rooster lantern, which was “too modern.”
As the job of supervising the Taipei Lantern Festival planning and organizing the work was suddenly handed over to Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun （陳景峻） and new Department of Information and Tourism Commissioner Chen Su-yu （陳思宇） last month, Ko was asked whether he has confidence in the upcoming event.
Ko said the department has been working on a very tight schedule, but so far the job has been done step by step according to schedule.
The final result can only be known after the main lantern is put on display on Feb. 24, he said.