As we walked along Old Orchard Beach at night it seemed every hundred metres or so there was someone or a group of people with sky lanterns. I had never heard of such things before.
My first thought was that they are a fire hazard, an accident waiting to happen. There were two reasons for that.
First was that a number of people didn’t seem to understand how to light their lanterns. When you are playing with fire, inevitably someone is going to get burned. I didn’t see it happen, but saw a couple of close calls. You need to hold the lantern so the hot air fills the balloon. If you light it with the balloon underneath you have a problem. To me that seems self-evident, but apparently it isn’t.
My second reason for concern was that the Old Orchard area is full of wooden cottages built closely together. I could just imagine the problems should one of the still-burning lanterns come down on a century-old dry wooden structure. On reflection though, I decided that was unlikely. Once launched the lanterns can travel high and far. If they come down to house level it means the flame has burned out. Still made me nervous at the time though.
Watching the lanterns get launched over the Atlantic Ocean was fun though. There was a certain beauty to watching them float away, pinpoints of light in the black of night. The pictures really don’t do the scene justice.