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Lanier Lantern Festival offering peace, celebration, reflection for a second year
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Dannella Burnett of Encore Elite Events writes on a type of lantern that will be used in the upcoming Lanier Lantern Festival on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

Last year’s Lanier Lantern Festival was a time of remembrance, celebration and looking to the future.

With the inaugural event’s success — it drew 2,000 people — it’s coming back to the Lake Lanier Olympic Park for another display of lanterns on the water 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.

Lanier Lantern Festival

When: 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: $20 for those 13 and older, $8 for those 4 to 12 years old and children under 4 are free

More info:

“I was very, very pleased with how well-received it was in the community,” said Dannella Burnett, organizer of the event and owner of Oakwood Occasions and Lanier Tent Rental. “I think the nature of the event, it was something different. We were very pleased with how receptive the community was to a new idea and the whole feeling and beliefs behind the event.”

It’s not intended to be especially religious or spiritual, but Burnett said it can be for many people.

“It was a day of unity,” Burnett said. “It can be about remembering, it can be about rejoicing, it can be about releasing. So, I think it kind of took on a different meaning for each person, but (it was) all very positive. We need a little more positive in the world today.”

For Burnett, it was about her father who died of cancer four years ago. For Julia Glover, it was about reflecting on her future.

“One of my friends, he did it in memory of someone, but for mine, I wrote a little poem on it,” Glover said. “Just something fun. Just kind of as a reminder, I guess, of where I’m headed, what’s ahead and the open-ended possibilities.”

It was the first lantern festival she had been to, so she was excited to get a group of her friends together for the event. She said they enjoyed the overall somber tone of the event.

“I definitely felt that from a lot of people there that it was a spiritual experience,” Glover said. “For me, it was definitely more of a reminiscence. A little bit more of a nostalgic feeling or a time of reflection.”

Burnett said the lanterns that float on the water are 100% biodegradable, in case any of them that don’t get “scooped up” afterwards sink in the water.

“It was just a great festival last year,” Burnett said. “We had music through the afternoon, we had kids activities, people got to decorate their lanterns.”

This year, they’ll have much of the same with kids activities, food trucks, live entertainment and retail vendors throughout the evening.

OBA! Brazilian Cuisine, Brooke Lynn's Own Sticks and Cones, Chelsea’s Street Grill, Little Hilton's Snow Cones and Downtown Drafts will all be on hand, along with others, to keep you full and hydrated.

Live entertainment will be provided by jB Jams, Star Phipps, Fused Dance Center and four or five other acts.

Representatives from Mary Kay, Paparazzi Jewelry, Color Street Nails and RH Beadworks will be there, too, as retail vendors.

And of course, there will be plenty of games and inflatables for the kids to play on as the sun is setting on the lake and the lanterns begin to be released.

“My favorite part was talking with some of the attendees after the release and finding out what it meant to them,” Burnett said. “There were some people crying and some with smiles on their faces. It just depends on what that time meant.”

Burnett said there was a diverse range of people there last year and she's hoping to see the same thing this year. And while it’s a community event, she enjoys the individual, reflective aspect the most.

“We just played some very soft music during the time they were being released, and there were some cheers as the first ones were being released,and then I think it was just quiet and reflective for some people,” Burnett said.

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