Saturday evening, dozens gathered at glen oak park for a night of remembrance, relaxation, and reunion. Peoria is the eighth city to host the One World Lantern Festival, a traveling event that is in its first year of touring. Today, folks turned out to remember those they lost, meet new people, and simply have an enjoyable evening.
Event coordinator Drew Curth says lanterns can be used to symbolize many different experiences.
"It’s a good event that people can kind of remember lost loved ones, or set goals for the year, and set it out on their lanterns," said Curth.
Ryley Thomas came to the Water Lantern Festival for a simple reason.
"It’s all about love and I’m a hippie at heart, so that’s why I’m here," said Thomas.
However, he also hoped to spend the night reflecting, and remembering, those he lost this past year.
"We had a miscarriage in the beginning of the year, right as I was starting my new job and yeah it’s kind of sent that away, it was, I know it was God’s plan," said Thomas.
Thomas also lost his grandfather around the same time and says he wants to gain closure from tonight’s lantern release.
"It’s been a series of events that lead up to me wanting to get into something like this," said Thomas .
When asked about why others should attend events like this, Thomas said that it serves as a great way to engage with others.
"I don’t see why not, it brings the community closer together, I mean look at all these beautiful people, God’s great," said Thomas.
The organizers tell me they have had great feedback from those who have attended past events. They added that they hope to make Peoria a routine stop on their annual tour.