Thursday, November 10, 2016

Light the Night

In my never-ending quest to find cool things to take pictures of, last weekend I went to The Lights Festival (Light the fire within!). I signed up for it sometime in July, put it on my calendar and forgot about it for several months.

Fortunately, my calendar and The Lights people sent me reminder emails, plus a note saying to please show up by 4:30 pm and bring a chair.

This is what you get, a mini-marker, a mini-flashlight, a sticker and a lantern, in a cute little burlap bag.

If you are unfamiliar with The Lights, this is what their website says:

The Lights Festival™ is a evening like no other. Imagine entering a place of peace, tranquility, and acceptance while enjoying laughs, smiles, and a little bit of dancing with the ones you love most. Never has there been an experience that allows you to throw your inhibitions to the side, and let your dreams fly. Join us for this one night experience of music, food and memories. The time is now to light the fire within.

Who wouldn't want a bit of that? So I packed my folding chair and a selection of reading material and off I went to the Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown. I arrived a little after 3pm.

I looked at my packet. I read my book. I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Around 6 (7?) they had a very nice singer attempt to entertain the crowd. She sang a few Dolly Parton and Kacey Musgrove songs, plus a few of her own. A nice change of pace, but she was up against a crowd of several thousand extremely bored people, who mostly ignored her. 

It became too dark too read.

This guy came prepared.

Finally, finally, they light the tiki torches. The crowd awakes from its stupor. Something is happening. But it's not dark yet. More light pop music from the sound system. It's getting genuinely dark, and the organizers, who seem like pleasant, earnest people, attempt to fire up the crowd. Cranky people who've been sitting in a parking lot for over 4 hours don't fire up easily.

It would be better if we could do something, but we are told DON'T LIGHT YOUR LANTERNS YET!!!! many times. The fire marshal has concerns. It's windy. If I have spent my entire day in a parking lot to not set my lantern on fire, I will be really upset. So will the rest of the crowd, which numbers approximately 10,000 by this point.

They lit the torches! Maybe we'll get to do something!

After another 30-40 minutes, some very bad jokes and an onstage proposal, (Too late, at this point, nothing short of Prince reincarnating on stage is going to get my full attention) the fire marshal gives the go ahead and they tell us how to light the lanterns. Sort of. The sound system isn't as good as it should be, and the guy telling us what to do is speaking too softly. But we get to light our lanterns!

Chaos ensues. People set fire to the lanterns instead of the fuel cell, people send them off sideways instead of straight up, so they fall to the ground and crash into people. There are small children in the crowd, always a plus when dealing with fire. Eventually, I get my lantern lit and after three tries figure out how to get it airborne.

And for one brief instant, it looks like the scene in Tangled. It is truly a magical moment.

Which lasts all of 5 minutes, and then I come crashing back to reality because I realize I've lost my chair, which has my bag sitting on it, which contains my wallet. I spend 20 minutes looking for my chair in a shifting crowd, devoid of landmarks, any and all soul-improving, mystic benefit gone.

Eventually, I find my chair and wallet, and then spend an hour trying to get out of the parking lot.

My attempt at a panoramic shot.

Conclusion: Go online and buy your own lanterns and do it with friends at home. It won't be as impressive, but it won't be as stressful either. And no-one will be trying to sell you corn dogs, lite beer, or souvenirs "of such a special night."

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