On Saturday, May 25, thousands of people from all over the state flocked to Maxwell for the Viive Lights Festival. First held on May 11, the event was to be repeated a week later but was rescheduled due to weather conditions.
The Lights Fest is an evening that is centered around paper lanterns that float in the sky when ignited.
The event officially opened at 4 PM with food available from food trucks. A booth with light up toys, glow sticks, and LED light strands affixed to plastic balloons, were all intended for adding to the evening ambiance.
The ticket price included the lantern and a miniature black marker for personalizing the paper with intentions, goals, or any sentiment the person wished to submit to the night sky. Event coordinators also sold merchandise like inflatable hammocks and sherpa blankets.
Live musicians filled the air with calm music that contributed to a calm atmosphere among people lounging in the grassy field. Cameras and cell phones snapped feverishly against the background of mountains, bathed in the gentle gold of a setting sun in an overcast sky. Bubbles floated lazily and cornhole bags were tossed, as people engaged in other outdoor activities. The event had a bit of a Woodstock vibe as secondhand cannabis smoke was evident, despite the many young children present.
Mina Alali, a singer/songwriter from Davis, performed in lieu of another entertainer who had to cancel.
Reasons for attending were varied but most people envisioned a magical experience.
Sara Mae Ann Rosales Paras, who died last month from lupus, was honored by 22 of her family who came from the Bay Area and as far south as San Diego. They also came to celebrate the birthday of her widower, who was happy to be with family for such a difficult birthday.
Attendees finished filling out words and pictures on their lanterns as the sun reached the horizon. As it grew dark, temperatures quickly began to plummet.
The evening breeze made Binny Bawa nervous. Bawa claimed that a week prior, she and her family had driven about half of the way down from Redding before they got word of the event’s postponement. Her husband, a doctor, insisted on taking time off for the event to spend with his wife and two young sons, Arman and AviRaj.
Thist time, the Bawa family did not have to accommodate another reschedule. Although the wind was moving considerably fast, managers for the event gave the “all clear” for everyone to ignite their paper lanterns on the tiki torches placed throughout the field.
Many lanterns floated upwards but there were some that caught the wind and ran along the ground. On occasion, extremely hot lanterns hit people or got tangled in balloon strings and tripods. First responders and good Samaritans paced the fence, snuffing out small fires before they could get out of hand.
Viive Events is pre-registering for a similar event on Nov. 16, in Northern California.
As local ordinances are vetted, the location becomes more pinpointed as the time draws nearer and the dates fluctuate with the weather conditions. ■