The Lantern Festival

I have always wanted to go to a Lantern Festival, and by always, I mean, ever since I read Neverending Footstep’s blog about going to one in Chiang Mai, earlier this year. (https://www.neverendingfootsteps.com/2012/11/27/the-yi-peng-lantern-release-in-photos/)

It looked amazing, but when was I going to be in Thailand? I mean, sure, I’d love to visit, but realistically??

My niece posted about going to one in Pittsburgh and that brought me up short – they have them here?? So I did some googling, and there are two companies that do them, and had local dates. There is The Lights Fest and The Lantern Fest. The Lights Fest had an event that we could make – the timing wasn’t great because it was the night before we were due to leave for the total eclipse, and in fact we’d be talking about going a day early. But I really wanted to do this, so we decided to squeeze it in.

Despite it being in “DC” – it was really just over the MD/PA border in PA. I mean, I get that they can’t have flaming lanterns in the middle of the city. They needed a big field, and the company assured us that they clean up afterwards and that the lanterns are biodegradable.

So we drove out, sat in lawn chairs waiting, waiting, waiting, decorated our lanterns with the free pens they gave us, had amazing Bibimbap from a food truck, and then watched the sunset, the torches lit, and then it was go time! They had musicians, which was nice. The lantern launch was truly magical if ephemeral and everything I wanted it to be.

The lanterns were launching steadily for a while, which was nice because you had some time to take it in – and then a storm came on us really suddenly (after sitting on the horizon for a long time) and the wind picked up incredibly. Then came the screaming and the flaming paper blowing around. It really was a shame to have something so lovely morph suddenly into a disaster movie, as everyone tried to get the hell out at once. Especially because it turned the parking lots into total gridlock. Ah well, pretty typical life experience I guess – the sublime mixed with a splash of horror. I was glad we went anyway. Plus the gridlock was good practice for our drive to Tennessee for the eclipse! ha!

Also the social media after was kind of funny – I’m including some screencaps of other people’s commentaries!

Bibimbap:
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Spring rolls:
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Sunset:
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Test lantern!
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The lantern for our daughter, who was on the way:
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Here’s some video clips!

And here’s the crazy parking situation.
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And amusing social media on Instagram after:
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And this pic I just thought was lovely.
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