Lights Festival – A Bucket List Requirement
There is something to be said about bucket lists and creating new experiences in your life. Sometimes we may feel that we are too old, too young, too weak, too big, too frail, or too timid but that is our mind setting limitations on our experiences. STOP yourself from limiting the amazing things you can witness and as Nike said, “Just Do It!”. The Lights Festival is one event that should be on everyone’s bucket list. https://thelightsfest.com/
My youngest daughter has always wanted to see the Lights Festival, where thousands of people gather in the middle of nowhere, (really nowhere!), to write their thoughts for lost loved ones or dreams for the future on rice paper lanterns and send them into the sky. As crazy as this may sound, this festival sells out online within hours each year.
Enjoying the day
Preparing for the Day
The big day came and we packed our ice chest with water, soda, and sandwiches, along with a plethora of snacks to satisfy any craving we may have while planted in the middle of the desert and headed out for our two-hour drive. When my husband asked where we were going, the reply was, “Imperial”. He said, “Imperial Beach?” “No, just Imperial”.
You may yourself be trying to google this elusive place. I can assure you it does exist but probably more on coordinates than house addresses. In California, head south towards the Mexican border then make a sharp left towards the Salton Sea and you are on your way in the right direction.
My husband and son-in-law started complaining early on while my daughter, 5-month-old grandson and I seemed excited that we were actually out of the house and headed out on a mini road trip to watch the sky light up with golden lanterns.
We finally made it to Lights Fest!
After about two hours we came upon the dirt road we were instructed to turn on. Not much chance we could miss it since large flags shouting “LIGHTS” waved on the corner. We headed down the dirt road observing the ATVs racing over dunes and motor homes forming circles that reminded me of old wagon trains securing camp.
We eventually came to a stop as a long line of cars preceded us and seemed to go on for days. We made it to the parking area where BMWs and some other less fortunate low-profile vehicles had buried themselves in the sand. People were out scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get them out but then just walked away. Maybe they had the mindset that they would figure it out later or perhaps that would be the wish they would write upon their lantern.
We pulled out the vast array of goodies, shade tent, ice chest and baby stroller to make our march into the event. Just a thought, if vehicles get stuck in the sand and soft dirt, chances are your stroller and ice chest won’t roll too quickly either.
We finally made it to a corner of the event and planted ourselves. It was in the mid-80s and we were in the middle of nowhere in a dirt field. I looked at my husband and could see the sweat trickling down his brow and waited for the negative remarks, but there was none.
Over the next four hours, we enjoyed music, conversation, and people-watching. Some of us threw back a few cold beers that vendor booths were selling for a mere $5 each. We had thoughtfully written our messages to lost loved ones on one lantern and then on the other four lanterns we individually scribed a message to Kai. Kai is our first grandson we lost at two-days old in 2016. Mine was a picture of Winnie the Pooh releasing a balloon into the heavens which stated: “You may be gone from my sight but you are never gone from my heart”.
The Big Event
It was now close to 6:30 and the night sky was dark and clear, with stars speckled across the black canvas. We lit our lanterns on tiki torches set up throughout the event. At the moment they said, “Release!” we were magically cast into what seemed like a dream world as the sky lit up with 6000 beautiful golden lanterns; it was surreal.
Eyes filled up with tears, while hopes, wishes and dreams spread out into the universe on glowing pillows of light. It was one of the most magnificent things I have ever been lucky enough to witness. For the next 30 minutes, people watched as more and more lanterns were being welcomed by the universe. It gave one a feeling of floating up into the heavens. The lanterns would go up lit, the universe would read the message and then the flame would go out and the lanterns would slowly drift back down.
On the two-plus hour drive home, the car was silent as we all took in the beauty of the evening. Watching those thin, delicate lanterns float into the sky was like watching angels rise into the heavens above. It gave me a feeling of being part of something so vast. We all agreed that everyone needs to witness something like this once in their life. No matter how far you must drive, it is worth it.
Be your own golden lantern. Write down your dreams and wishes and cast them into the universe. Then, get up and make them happen!