A bright, glittery glow will be emanating from of the waters of the Sparks Marina on the evening of July 21 as part of the national One World Water Lantern Festival. At more than 50 ponds and lakes across America, families and friends will be releasing lanterns all summer long that carry messages of hope, happiness, healing, and love while also enjoying good food, music, and a peaceful moment of self-reflection and community.
One World is an event company that also hosts the Color Vibe and wanted to create a new brand that brings people together. Its organizers originally thought of the Asian tradition of releasing sky lanterns, but introducing them into the water is safer and much more controlled. While choosing locations for the Water Lantern Festival’s inaugural year, Event Director Joey McKnight was Googling spots in the Northern Nevada area and came upon the Sparks Marina.
“I thought it was a great body of water, talked to the City of Sparks, and here we are today,” he says.
This is the first year of the Water Lantern Festival and events have already been held in Texas, Colorado, California, Illinois, Washington State, and New York. The festival has already been well-received as thousands of people have flocked to the waters to release hand-decorated lanterns with personalized meanings and sentiments.
“The response has been really great. During the light hours we bring in food trucks and a DJ, but it’s not a dance party- the music is quiet enough to be able to lay down blankets and lawn chairs and hold a conversation.
“We just want people to come out, have a good time, and interact with people that they don’t even know. That all culminates into launching the lanterns at nighttime,” McKnight says. While it’s hard to describe how the mood changes from day to night, it often becomes therapeutic and emotional for people as the lanterns light up the water and float around.
“It can mean anything to anybody,” McKnight says. The event company also hosts a guided meditation before the launch with messages of affirmation.
The Sparks’ stop of the Water Lantern Festival will be its 13th event or so, and is already off to a good start.
“At the Crestline, California stop we were at Lake Gregory, which is a reservoir on the peak of the mountain. People were excited to be there, just generally happy. We brought in DJ Marcus Wings who was very good at guiding the audience. Usually we launch the lanterns with the wind to our back but at that particular location there was this swirling wind which caused the lanterns to lazily swirl around in a circle. People were holding each other, laughing, crying, and even a few (wedding) proposals. It was more energetic during the day with music and food, but then became subdued as it turned into night. The lanterns were just gliding through the water, even if they had motors you couldn’t have planned that,” says McKnight.
Tickets for the Sparks July 21 Water Lantern Festival are available for sale online for $45 for $50 the day of. Each ticket includes a wristband, keychain LED flashlight, marker, and floating water lantern (plus the cleanup and collection of lanterns). Gates open at 5pm with food trucks, music, and other events until 7:30 p.m. As the sun sets, attendees are invited to design their lanterns together until the 8 to 8:30 p.m. launch. The festival concludes at 9:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.waterlanternfestival.com/reno.php.