Can Giant Puppets Connect a Community Both Together and History?

September 24, 2016, Glass Street


Local Chattanoogan and Emmy Award winning artist Wayne White and the Shaking Ray Levi Society, a non-profit supporting non-traditional artists, announced in late July of 2016 that White would be putting on the Wayne-O-Rama, a year-long interactive art installation. There were various exhibits throughout the city, all depicting scenes from Chattanooga’s history, and White participated in events such as GHC’s 2016 Glass Street Live.


Wayne White’s inclusion in GLS 2016 added another layer to the events, one that showed the community a piece from the substantial veins of history in Chattanooga, and further connected them to the historical parks right next door.


White created twenty feet puppets of two Civil War generals who charged up the hill on the Chickamauga Battlefield 100 years ago, which marched down Glass Street in a community parade to begin Glass Street Live. A number of other puppets, handmade by adults and youth from the community, were also featured in the parade, having been made in the weeks prior. Mark Making graciously opened their studio on Monday and Thursday nights for puppet building, while funding was provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission. All the puppets were created from recycled material, giving new life to cardboard, fabric, and paper that would have otherwise been thrown out.

White’s puppets depicting the Civil War generals spread greater awareness to the community about the beautiful natural park right next door to them, the Pennsylvania Reservation, which was (and still is) newly connected by a trail to the Sherman Reservation along the ridge. Visitors and residents were encouraged to explore the new trail and the park, with rangers providing tours during the afternoon.


Having so many people march down the streets of their community with pieces of art created by their own hands brings nothing but pride and joy. Bonds and kinship were shown in the most unlikely way: puppets!

White’s puppets also furthered GHC’s project to get the community outside and in the natural beauty of the Sherman Reservation, where they could explore the outdoors and learn about the history and battles that shaped the city.