Rise Lantern Festival founder Dan Hill: Celebrating life and our collective experience

Editor’s Note: Robin Leach is working from the cooler climes of La Jolla near San Diego for the remainder of this hot month in advance of our newly designed website launching shortly. We’ll continue with our guest columnists until his return for Labor Day Weekend.

Today, one of our guest columns is by Dan Hill, who created The Rise Lantern Festival about to celebrate its third year as an attraction outside the valley drawing visitors from around the world. Our other guest column is from Kevin Sweet of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas who tells us about the gaming floor changes at the casino resort. Here’s Dan:

By Dan Hill

Illuminating the desert night sky with more than 20,000 flame-lit lanterns has been no easy task and short road. It has been a journey. The significance of The Rise Lantern Festival represents not only my own path of finally seeing this idea come to fruition in the vast open space outside Las Vegas, but also the thousands of people who’ve joined us the last two years.

At its heart, Rise is a lantern festival created to bring family, friends, strangers and people of all backgrounds and ages together to celebrate life and our collective experience. Rise creates an everlasting moment shared by many and open to all. This is the story of Rise.

When I first came up with the idea of Rise, I was working on another project that ended up not living up to my hopes and expectations. I was yearning for more fulfillment. After a lackluster event for Electric Run in Sydney, Australia, my team and I were drained and planned to travel to Thailand for a lantern festival.

What I remember most about that trip is the look of pure joy on my good friend’s face as he lit his lantern and released it into the warm, thick sky. Little did I know, as I snapped a photo of him, that I would be capturing the beginning of a new journey for myself, as well.

After the festival, we set out, walking through the streets of Thailand, blurting out ideas and developing a vision. When we spotted the word “Rise” on a billboard, everything came together.

The team and I developed a clear vision for what Rise should be, and we kept it authentic. We wanted the experience to be simple and pure for everyone, so each lantern is personalized with a special message, dream or prayer to be released in unison after sunset.

There were challenges along the way, including designing safe lanterns that don’t disrupt the environment and picking the best location for such a unique event. Trial and error are a part of every process, and my team and I whole-heartedly believed in this idea and what it could mean for everyone who participated. Nothing could stop us.

Coming up on our third year, I can’t believe the number of people who have traveled from all over the world to take part. Each year, more than 10,000 participants have flocked to the desert for the powerful and poignant experience. This October, we are lucky enough to be able to expand to two days, allowing for even more people to come out and lift their voices to the sky.

I hope to connect Rise to as many people as possible and create more beautiful moments for participants far and wide. In a world that can sometimes feel disconnected, I feel complete knowing that thousands of people are a part of something unifying and beautiful.

Be sure to check out our other guest column today from gaming executive Kevin Sweet at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with all the changes taking place there on the gaming floor. Robin also prepares his Sunday Life stories that includes 2016 Mrs. Nevada-America Lauren Cahlan of Summerlin as she prepares for the 2016 Mrs. America Pageant at Westgate Las Vegas on Saturday, Aug. 27, with the hope that she’ll win and go on to the Mrs. World Pageant in South Korea in October.

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