New Albany Tourism has opted to postpone the solstice celebration and lantern release planned for June 21 as the company providing the lanterns could not confirm delivery in time for the event.
Five hundred lanterns were ordered in mid-May, but the city received an email on June 5 stating that the company, based in China, could not guarantee delivery by the 21st. No further explanation was given.
“This may be a blessing in disguise,” said New Albany’s tourism director, Sean Johnson. “We had been working with the Pilot Club to produce the event and they had presented a number of great ideas for other activities to surround event, but there was just not enough time to plan them correctly. This forced wait for the lanterns will allow us to include some more ideas and to provide a greater experience later on.”
Johnson said there are number of moving parts in an event like this: the weather and burn conditions and wind…any of these could cancel the event. With the added uncertainty of lantern availability, hosting the event as a stand-alone event made having the event on June 21 untenable.
“We’d rather err on the side of caution,” Johnson said. “If conditions did not allow for a lantern release, or the lanterns did not arrive on time, we’d need other entertainment or events for those who showed up and we’d rather do something right than just put something together with only a few weeks’ preparation.”
The event has received a state grant and approval from the city’s fire chief and would be covered under the city’s event insurance policy.
Johnson says that the event is still in the works, but it may be in conjunction with RiverFest or another festival that is being planned for next spring.