It’s a mystery how a sky lantern — similar to the dozens that RiSE Festival promoters ignited and released at dusk Tuesday from the Jean Dry Lake bed — wound up 26 miles north of the launch site in Ken Du Pont’s swimming pool in Henderson.
It’s certainly a coincidence, though, that the one he fished from the bottom of his pool Wednesday landed there within 12 hours after the test launch, and that he found it minutes after he read a Review-Journal story about releasing thousands of sky lanterns at the festival scheduled for later this month.
“I get up, read the paper then go out and skim the pool and there it was,” Du Pont said.
But unlike the 45 paper-and-cord lanterns that festival organizers had numbered in black, someone had written “John” in green letters on the one Du Pont found.
On closer inspection Wednesday afternoon, its circular base measured 14 inches in diameter, not 24 inches like the ones that were released Tuesday for an audience of public lands officials.
The Bureau of Land Management staff is expected to issue a permit this week for festival co-founder Dan Hill and his Ody Events outfit to let 10,000 paying customers release 20,000 sky lanterns on Oct. 18.
“There’s no way that’s one of ours,” Hill said.
BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon confirmed that none of the 45 sky lanterns that had been released Tuesday headed north, and all had been recovered within the vicinity of the dry lake bed.
Events like the RiSE Festival require a special recreation permit to release incendiary objects such as sky lanterns. Permits that charge a fee of $5 per day for each participant are required for smaller, organized groups. Regulations also apply to individuals for using sky lanterns on public lands.
“If a sky lantern were to ignite a wildland fire, the individual would be responsible for costs of suppression and resource damage. In addition, the use of sky lanterns would be prohibited during fire restrictions which generally run from May to September. Also uncollected spent sky lanterns would create trash resulting in possible fines,” Cannon wrote in an email.
Du Pont said he wonders if the BLM is sending out the wrong message by allowing sky lanterns to be released at all.
“There’ll be 20,000 pieces of trash. Will they start a fire, who knows?” he said.
Hill said festival organizers intend to clean up all the expired sky lanterns and additional litter too as cleanup crews canvass an area within three miles of the lake bed, where the lanterns are expected to fall to the surface and be cool to the touch.
Contact Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2.