Lit-up Lanterns Help Austinites Find Peace
By Alaina Hayden
AUSTIN – On Saturday March 7th, Mueller Lake Park experienced something new swimming in the water. Thousands of lanterns floated across the lake and each one represented something special.
“It’s a place where people feel like they can grow and also come together,” said Chelsea Jensen, the Water Lantern Festival Event Coordinator.
The Water Lantern Festival is a nation-wide event designed to bring hope for people who need a way to release the demons of their past. Taking place during spring and summer, the event includes live music, food trucks and games. At every gathering, there is an opportunity for participants to share what their lantern means to them.
“I am an incest and sexual assault survivor and I am coming out of the shadows because this is my life,” said Abbie Navarete, a festival attendee. Navarete expressed how grateful she was to have an opportunity to speak her truth.
Jensen remembered a family who shared the passing of their son in a car crash earlier that year. The couple used the lantern to cope with the sudden loss.
For some, the festival represented a beacon of peace in troubling times. Attendees Amelia Vick and Santiago Segovia said it was great to be able to go to the event with the election and the coronavirus pandemic looming over everyone.
The Water Lantern Festival started its season in Austin and will continue a national tour that has been rescheduled for June because of Covid-19 restrictions.