Fort Mill Times

Lanterns light up the sky at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia

Lantern Fest was held May 2 at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia.
Lantern Fest was held May 2 at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia.

Lantern Fest lit up the night sky May 2 above Carolina Speedway on Union Road, near Lake Wylie.

Unfortunately, soon after the lanterns were released a cell phone tower caught fire. There were no injuries reported and crews were able to quickly respond to the fire.

Event director Spencer Humiston said the Gastonia event is one of about 15 festivals being held this year across the country. The festival takes inspiration from the ancient Asian tradition of releasing lanterns into the air to honor a loved one, bring good fortune or to renew.

Humiston said people write loved ones names on their lanterns, resolutions, anything.

“People do it for a variety of reasons,” he said. “It’s a good evening, and it’s pretty magical.”

About 5,000 people came out for the event, which also included music and treats such as smores at fire pits before the main event.

Humiston said it took the help of 100 volunteers and eight staff members to put the festival on. The event teamed up to raise money for American Cancer Society in Charlotte.

“We raised about $6,000 to $8,000 for them tonight,” he said.

The lanterns are biodegradable, Humiston said, and they have “lantern chasers” who retrieve 90 percent of the released lanterns.