There are a few moments in everyone’s life that are noted as “once in a lifetime” moments. And I just experienced another one while checking off an item on my bucket list!
May 29, 2018 a company named, Lantern Fest, a company that travels around the country all year putting on Lantern Festivals in larger cities, hosted a #lanternfest in Salt Lake City.
Several months ago I was dreaming of more trips to take this year and I stumbled across their site and saw that most of their festivals were far away from me, at least 10+ hours of driving. As I kept scrolling I saw that there was a new addition to the event list for Salt Lake city! I couldn’t reach for my wallet fast enough when I saw the tickets had just gone on sale.
The months from February to May seemed to drag whenever I thought about attending this event, but then March was gone, April disappeared and before I knew it it was Mother’s Day and the weekend before the festival! The morning of we packed up the car and at about noon we headed South! It being over a three hour drive we wanted to get down there sooner rather than later from when the doors opened, we/I didn’t want to get stuck with a crappy spot. So we hit the road, and the drive from Twin Falls, ID to Salt Lake City is a pretty easy trek, just time consuming.
Once we got there we had a bit of a hassle figuring out the parking situation, we were told that we were in parking lot D but when we arrived we saw signs for A and C but no middle or later letters. So we decided to start heading towards parking lot A to see what would happen…when we paid our parking fee they let us right in. SCORE! We were in prime parking and ready to go get settled in for the next several hours before the lanterns were lifting off.
This was one of the first times I felt like the parent who packed EVERYTHING, we had chairs, snacks, blankets, change of clothes, hats, coats, camera gear including tripod, I mean everything I could think of that Harmony or we might need (outside of adult food and beverage) was packed up and loaded up in the stroller and on parent’s backs.
Since we had registered early, checking in was fairly easy and it hadn’t started getting busy yet since the doors had only opened about an hour before we got there. We got our lanterns, s’more packets and headed to find a fire pit that was open. Score again! We found a spot that put us towards the middle but just far enough out that we wouldn’t get trampled. Everything was perfect! Sunscreen applied and we were ready to rock and roll!
Next it was all about how to kill time and keep the “munchkin” occupied. It didn’t take long for Harmony to start playing with rocks and getting into all kinds of things. After a few hours we decided it was time to venture out from our spot and find some food. What I love about traveling with a baby as cute as mine is, everyone LOVES saying hi to her!
Once the sun started to descend behind the mountain range you could feel the anticipation starting to become tangible throughout the crowd. Camp fires lit and s’mores being cooked while live music was playing, if I didn’t know that there was more to come with lighting the lanterns I would have been happy with just this. Simple, community, family, memories and s’mores? Done!
I loved how the DJ kept making announcements that this was a COMMUNITY event, invite a stranger into your fire pit area, share, meet new people, but this was about inviting in with open arms.
Finally the last live act was up, I was quite pleased to hear he was a gold miner from Alaska, and I was wearing my “Alaskan Grown” hoodie. I, of course, had to run up to the stage and flash my hoodie to him and show some Alaskan love! Soon darkness had overtaken the valley and the count down had begun.
“You lift me up” by Josh Groban came over the PA speakers and my heart swelled with excitement and love as the perfect moment was created, lift off!
I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect moment, Peter was so focused on getting our lanterns lit that he nearly missed this moment, when he looked up I could hear the awe in the short breath he took.
I am going to run out of synonyms for perfect very quickly.
The struggle to get our five lanterns was still a factor. We teamed up and finally got the first one up, we also learned that if you don’t wait for the lantern to fill with hot air before letting it go it will descend on someone’s head. Our first one nearly landed on a lady’s jacket and we had a few fly bys of lanterns trying to drop on Peter’s head. Once we got the strategy figured out on how to successfully launch the lanterns we sent our prayers, dreams and wishes to the heavens.
Soon the smoke from the camp fires and the matches from lighting the lanterns was getting too thick to breathe and we still had Harmony, awake and in awe of the sight of tens of 1,000s of lanterns lighting up the midnight sky. Taking in the last breathe of clean air, capturing a few more mental and physical photos it was time to boogie out of there.
For the amount of time it took to get there, get out of the parking lot, and finally getting home…it was all worth it. I will forever dream of lanterns taking off into the night sky with over 10,000 viewers all watching their own prayers and wishes drifting towards the heavens. The feeling I couldn’t help but take away from that moment was hope. Everyone there was hoping for something; love, good grades, graduating, a family member’s health, the list goes on and on for all the things people were hoping for, and you could feel that hope in the very air around you.
As the last of the lanterns took off we were finding our way through the gate back to the parking lot.
If you are ever wanting to attend an event like this I would check out #lanternfest they do an amazing job putting these on and giving you all the information you’ll need, including items to bring for kids, and how to get comfortable for the show.
This was a major bucket and photography item for me and it was a moment that truly was “once in a lifetime”. Now, I am sure I could always attend another event like this, but to have my family with me, for a moment like this? That will never be able to be replicated…making it once in a lifetime.
Traveling Photographer Out!