For the last seven years, Siem Reap’s Giant Puppet Project has invited disadvantaged children from local schools and shelters to take part in puppet-making workshops led by students from the Phare Ponlue Selpak arts school. The mission is to promote self-expression and confidence through art, and the program’s annual crescendo is a fun-filled evening procession through the streets of Siem Reap called the Giant Puppet Parade, this year slated for February 23. Joined by a Cambodian Scouts marching band, the young puppet-makers will carry their rattan-and-paper creations on poles, Chinese dragon dance–style, from the Old Market area to the leafy grounds of Royal Independence Gardens. The puppets, ranging from 10 to 30 meters in length, take the form of Khmer cultural icons or endangered native animals such as the Indochinese tiger, but the night’s real draw is the smiling faces of the kids themselves. –David Tse.
Originally appeared in the February/March print edition of DestinAsian Magazine (“Reap Roaring”).