Don’t assume any unusual lights over the Jean dry lake bed 35 miles south of Las Vegas in coming weeks are unidentified flying objects.
On Monday or Tuesday the promoters of the Rise Festival and the Bureau of Land Management will release several hundred paper hot-air balloon lanterns as a test leading up to an October 18 release of 21,000 lanterns.
The first Rise Festival is expected to attract as many as 10,000 participants who will light and release 21,000 balloons, according to a BLM assessment of the event being staged by Ody Events.
“It’s a centuries-old idea that’s both simple and powerful,” according to a Rise Festival website. “Thousands of lanterns, each representing a hope, a dream, a new leaf, or a forgotten wish coming together to form something beautiful.”
The timing of the test launch is unclear. On the 18th lanterns will be released in waves starting 30 minutes after sunset and lasting until 9 p.m., according to an assessment released by the Las Vegas office of the BLM.
Each lantern, made up of a fuel cell and a balloon, is about 2 feet wide and just over 3 feet tall.
The lanterns are expected to travel more than 1,000 feet into the sky, the flame in the fuel cell will burn out and the lanterns will return to the ground cool enough to touch. While the lanterns are biodegradable, they will not be left to decompose in the desert and an Ody crew of about 500 workers will clear the lake bed.
Based on testing and previous wind conditions, Ody Events and the BLM determined that the balloons, no matter what direction they travel, will land within the perimeter of the lake bed and will not disrupt traffic on nearby Interstate 15 or harm wildlife, according to an environmental assessment read for the event.
Metro and the Clark County Fire Department will be on hand to ensure public safety, security, traffic management and fire protection.
Gates to the event, which can only be reached by Rise shuttles, will open at 5:15 p.m. Joshua James will perform at 6:15 p.m. and a fireworks display will accompany the first lantern release.
Contact Kimber Laux at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @lauxkimber.