Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thousands of Sky Lanterns Light the Night

sky lanterns
Eleven thousand sky lanterns were released into the night sky on June 21, 2011, in Poznan, Poland, to celebrate Midsummer Night. The event was promoted on Facebook as "Poznan's most romantic night". People were invited to come and buy paper lanterns (for about $1.80) and release them into the sky after lighting their fuel and letting the hot air take them up and away.

The event was scheduled to start at 10:30 pm and around 1000 of these Chinese lanterns were released all at once. Within an hour an additional 10,000 were gradually released, creating an impressive image of thousands of lights in the Polish sky.

The number of sky lanterns released at one time was a record for Poland, which was a goal of the event's organizers. It may also be a Guiness World Record, as 11,000 floating lanterns flown simultaneously would beat the previous record of 10,318 lanterns held by Indonesia.

The Midsummer Night occurs on the shortest night of the year, on June 21st or 22nd. It is near to the time of "Ivan Kupala" (or Noc KupaƂy), a feast day for St. John the Baptist, which is also a reason for the celebration.

Sky lanterns are traditional paper lanterns used in parts of Asia. They are usually made from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, which can easily burn up, but there are also now flame-retardant sky lanterns available made from bio-degradable material. The lanterns float in the air due to a small candle or fuel source secured to the frame creating hot air that lifts the lantern.

Of course there is a downside to having thousands of little fires floating to who knows where, carrying its own paper trash. Beside distributing litter, they can cause crop fires and injure or kill livestock that eat the wire frames.

The large display of sky lanterns is reminiscent of the beautiful floating lanterns seen in the Disney movie Tangled, during the "I See the Light" song.

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