Lantern Fest at Pikes Peak International Raceway expects thousands

April 23, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm
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Lantern Fest director Spencer Humiston hopes about 8,000 lanterns will fill the sky above Pikes Peak International Raceway on Saturday. Courtesy Lantern Fest.

6 p.m. Saturday, Pikes Peak International Raceway, 16650 Midway Ranch Road, Fountain, $35-$40, free 15 and younger;

Every November, the people of Thailand celebrate the end of the rainy season by launching lit paper lanterns into the night sky.

Two years ago, Spencer Humiston witnessed the Loi Krathong festival and came home inspired to create a similar event. The first two Lantern Fests were held last year in Spokane, Wash., and Colorado Springs in November. The event returns Saturday at the Pikes Peak International Raceway.

"About 8,000 people might be there. It should be pretty spectacular," says Humiston, event director. "Imagine 8,000 floating lanterns in the sky at one time."

During the two hours before dusk, there'll be music by country singer Suzie Brown, s'mores dessert stations, face painters, balloon twisters and costumed fairy tale characters.

And when the skies go dark, the lanterns will be lit and released.

"I was surprised at how emotional the event was in the Springs last year," Humiston says.

"The emotions tied up into it caught me off guard. They'd written names of loved ones or resolutions or something they wanted to float away."

Each adult 16 and older must purchase a package that contains one lantern measuring 20 inches wide by 34 inches tall, fixings for four s'mores desserts, a flashlight and crayons to write on the lantern. Those 15 and younger are admitted free. They are not allowed to light the lanterns, but can launch them.

The lanterns go up a couple of thousand feet and float for about three minutes, Humiston says. That provides plenty of time for them to cool down before they land on the ground up to a quarter of a mile away.

The lanterns are 100 percent biodegradable - made of rice paper, bamboo and wax. About six to seven hours after the event, Humiston sends out a cleanup crew to pick up all the lanterns, which typically all land in the same spot.

To thwart fire danger, he and his crew work closely with the Fountain Fire Department. If the event is canceled for any reason, refunds will not be given.

"We're able to put on a cool event that's family-friendly and there's no downside to it," Humiston says. "It's a magical evening. People walk away feeling inspired and a little better about everything."

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