On Saturday, Feb. 25, thousands of people travelled from near and far to attend a Lantern Festival at the Mesquite MX Park in Littlefield, Arizona. The festival is becoming a popular event that allows people to purchase a paper lantern that will float off into the air in memory of loved ones who have passed away. The event also sees several proposals for those looking to start anew.
Beginning around 2 p.m., traffic was backed up on the Exit 122 northbound off-ramp as vehicles headed towards Hillside Drive. From there, it would be another two miles to the venue, which took an hour or more to reach, according to Justin and Carla Laudando, two Mesquite residents who attended the event.
Two officers from the Mesquite Police Department helped direct traffic at the intersection of Sandhill Boulevard and Hillside Drive during the event. Mesquite Police Officer Quinn Averett said those two officers’ time, an eight-hour shift, was paid for by the organizers of the event. The Laudandos also noted there was an Arizona officer directing traffic at the intersection of Hillside Drive and Peppermill Palms Road.
“From the Shell station to Hillside road, it took 15 minutes to get to the light. Once we hit Hillside and to the event, it was an hour and 20 minutes,” they said. Once they got there and through the gates, the parking became the next obstacle. Parking was limited to the fields near the old steakhouse. “The fields were so overgrown with tumbleweeds, grass and other debris that any hot engine could have caught fire.” Carla also mentioned that there was little to no direction from event organizers on parking and organizing.
Reviews about the event on Facebook have garnered the exact opposite. While several noted the travel and parking were “interesting” or “entertaining,” the consensus is that the event was as magical as it looked from the freeway that night.
Estimates from spectators say there were between 7,000 and 10,000 people at the event. While most of them were from Las Vegas and Southern Utah, there were several from as far away as Connecticut and California. Several Mesquite residents attended as well, according to posts on Facebook.
With that many people and that many lanterns, the remains of the event were still present Monday morning, two days after.
“They had asked for volunteers to help clean up after the event,” Carla said. Apparently, no one was willing to come back Sunday or try to collect the lanterns in the dark that night.
With westerly winds blowing steadily after the event, lanterns that had lit up the sky fell or blew all the way out to the freeway, although a majority of them were found on Peppermill Palms Road that leads to the MX Park. Comments from the Mesquite MX Park were unavailable as of the MLN’s deadline.
While Viive Events LLC, the main organizer from Pleasant Grove, Utah, has not announced any other events in the immediate area anytime soon, the RiSE Festival will be at the Moapa Travel Plaza on Oct. 6 and 7. Presale tickets for that event go live on March 2. For more information on that event, go to http://risefestival.com/mojave-event-details/.