Beautiful and Emotional

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Who doesn’t dream about lanterns when they are young? For some reason, most of us associate lanterns with the far East. Now living in America, I came to the realization, that the East is not the only place where this amazing thing can happen. Searching the internet a few weeks ago, I came to the Lantern Fest. After doing a little research, I reached out to their team. As a photographer, I like to share great moments with other people, so I teamed up with Lantern Fest to bring festivals to new perspectives. The closest location and date to me was Philadelphia. I got a feeling that this event could be a perfect place to make friendships stronger, so I invited four fellow photographers to join me and go to the festival together. After spending the day in Philly, all of us were tired but excited like no other. From there we started to drive out to the festival location. From the moment we got out of the car, you could feel the change. Excitement, happiness. We found a spot, put our blankets down and started to explore. They had great music, great programs, even for kids. After sunset, everyone got their smores kits out, started little fires (with the help of their amazing staff). Here came the other realization, how nice people can be who you never met. We got invited by two other groups to join them and make smores. We never met them, didn’t know who they were, but at that moment, it felt like family. Not long after the sky lit with thousands of lanterns. Not only it was beautiful but emotional. With tears in my eyes, camera in one hand, phone in the other, I was running around trying to capture as much as I could from this unusual sight. At that moment, it just made me feel so grateful for my life, for everything that I have, and the amazing crew I came with and got to share this experience. Lantern Fest made sure that every moment was special, so they closed the festival with fire dancers. What a show it was!

In the car on our way home, we couldn’t help but talk about attending the next festival.

Thanks for having Us!

The Proposal

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People ask us all the time “How did you guys meet” and “Was it love at first sight”. Well it’s a pretty funny story, back in 2010 we had a second period English class together with Mrs. Heinemann. Joe thought it would be hilarious to click a loud dog whistle app on his phone during the whole class. Well let me tell you, it wasn’t, it was obnoxious. He kept doing it every day for two reasons: 1. The teacher couldn’t hear it 2. I would talk to him. One day we had to do an assignment together because Mrs. H realized we didn’t like each other. That we went from classmates to friends, and that friendship turned into 7-11, Slurpee walks, followed by a three year denial of affection on my part. Was at love at first sight? For me, Hell no, but around Christmas of 2012 we decided to start dating. After we had been dating for six months, I said “I love you,” and almost five years later we got engaged at the Lantern Fest in Erie PA.

The Proposal

It was a total surprise! I honestly had zero idea that anything was going to happen! Joseph asked my parents back in April, so the fact that it was a secret until the end of August honestly shocks me! We spent the whole day together in Erie that day. Once we got to the Lantern Fest, I was so excited about the lanterns in general. We got our blankets, sat down, started to decorate the lanterns. Joe’s lantern had a rocket ship that said “We will go to infinity and beyond together,” I didn’t think anything of it. My lantern had the quote from the movie up “You are my greatest adventure.” Joe’s parents also came to the lantern fest. Another reason I had no idea I was about to get engaged. Once it started to get darker Joe and his father Mike went to go “get free stuff at the tents,” but in reality it was to meet up with the secret photographer. Once they came back Joes parents went for a walk. As we were sitting there I ask Joe “Why are your parents walking so slowly” and he looked at me and said “do you mean that?” As he point at my floating lantern. A second later he reaches his hand into the backpack and pulls out the box. I started freaking out, he went down on one knee, and said” Ann Marie, I love you, will you marry me?” and of course I said YES! and the secret photographer was there to capture the most romantic night!

A Message to Dad

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I was looking forward to this event for a really long time. I wasn’t able to make it to the first Fest that was held in our city, so the second event was a must attend. I knew for a long time that I would write to my dad on my lantern, he passed away 15 years ago when I was only 5 years old. I ended up writing about sunsets and rainbows, thanking him for his messages to me in the sky. As the sun went down, the most amazing sunset fell into the background and I was amazed. Little did I know, the sight of thousands of lights in the sky would far surpass any sky message I’d ever seen before. I’ve never felt or seen anything like what I was able to experience at the Lantern Fest, I’m still in a trance days later. My dad was able to be there with me that night in a way I couldn’t have even hoped for, and for that, my heart is full. -Justie Waugaman



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My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in September of 2015 at the age of 32. In the short 8 months since the diagnosis, he has been through radiation, chemo, a massive surgery, and then 4 more months of infusion chemotherapy. He handled it all like a badass! On Saturday, we were celebrating the end of his chemo treatments! I coordinated getting our close friends up to the Lantern Fest to surprise Luke, so my best friend Kelly and I made posters and they gathered to surprise him. He was shocked! The event meant a lot to us, because it symbolized letting go of the chemo and surgeries and moving forward, hopefully cancer-free! We had a great time!


My Twin

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I experienced this celebration of light on the eve of my birthday September 26, 2015 in Pennsylvania. I shared that birthday with my twin Mary every year prior… It was a difficult time for me, but soon turned into the best birthday celebration with my twin who had passed away a year earlier. It felt as if we were sharing the best birthday ever. It was like we were sending her birthday candles… Hundreds of them! Thank you for this experience. My son was thoughtful to think to take me there on such a sad day, knowing I’d be crying and laughing with joy of being so close to Mary still while celebrating her life and our birthday.


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Lantern fest is absolutely spectacular! It is seriously my favorite summer event! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a stunning view of the sky than when it is lit up by thousands of paper lanterns taking flight. I have had the privilege to sing and perform during the lantern fest events around the country, and it is always so much fun. I love how families and friends can all come together, gather around a campfire, listen to music, play games, and enjoy each others company in such a great atmosphere. I’ve told all my friends about the lantern fest, because I think it should definitely be on everybody’s bucket list and summer plans.

Susie Brown

An Adventure

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My friend told my boyfriend, Tim, and I that we all had to go to this lantern festival because it would be like Tangled and be the most beautiful night ever. We got our tickets online had no big expectations. We all rode together and hung-out all day taking photos/videos. We found out we could write on our lanterns and got really excited! Tim wrote “hey mom, I love you”, he lost her at the young age of 8.

The night exceeded our expectations. We released our lanterns and looked up into the sky. It was beautiful was unbelievable and unforgettable, something we will all hold on to forever. Right as we were lighting the lanterns we saw that our other friends had arrived. We kept lighting more lanterns and danced until the night was over. It was amazing! we stayed and helped clean up trash in the rain, talked to some of the staff and volunteers even getting ourselves some volunteer shirts. It was awesome!

We stayed at a friend’s house that night and started our drive home the next morning. My friend, Maddie, and I drove for about 2 1/2 hours before her car just started smoking and we were pulled over on the side of the highway in Greenville, SC. Great. We got an uber to a red robin close by it’s funny because literally the day before I was telling Maddie how she had to try the royal red Robbin burger (it has a fried egg on it…nuff said). We made a video of our adventures while we waited there until Maddie’s parents could come and get us. I always have the best adventures with Maddie!


Complete Silence

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We got there a little early. The event was in a newer location and we wanted a great spot. Everyone else had the same idea ☺ plenty of room left however and we made our way into the seating area. Lots of smiles and chatter from big families and small families alike. People scribble down their dreams, fears, and captions to watch them float away. Our family chose to write the names of family members we have lost. The crowd, getting quite excited, becomes louder and louder. The announcer, explaining how to prep for the launch, also gets louder and louder. People begin to shake out their lantern opening them up. Wide-eyed and ready they start to place lanterns over torches to fill them with hot air. What was dimly lit, now begins to glow with swelling lanterns. The warm glow grows and grows. Children laugh and people chant. The count down begins… and upon reaching 1, all is release. I’m a photographer and it’s my job to notice things. But for a few seconds as these gently floating lanterns filled the sky, I think I was the only one to notice the complete silence. Adults and children alike in complete awe of the beautiful event unfolding. It was magic. The quiet lasted while the lanterns shrunk in size and everyone realized what had just taken place. With an eruption of joy a second and third lantern was prepared and allowed to lift. I won’t forget that night and truly hope to attend more. My children and I had a great experience.


New Beginnings

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Amadeus & I had been dating for just over a year when we attended our very first lantern festival in October 2015. We weren’t really sure what to expect but both loved the idea of capturing our hopes and dreams in written form and then sending them up into the great beyond. The entire day was perfect. We packed chairs and blankets and arrived early to enjoy the music festivities and check out the various food trucks and games. We had plenty of time to walk around, enjoy the scenery, make some new friends, roast s’mores and have an all-around great time. As nightfall approached, the time finally came to launch our lanterns and words cannot even describe how amazing it was to experience such an event. It was truly the most breathtaking and magical sight we had ever beheld. I was so taken by the view that I didn’t even notice when he pulled a little box out of his pocket. He swirled me around, got down on one knee, and proposed against the unforgettable backdrop of a thousand lanterns illuminating the sky. You could say the stars were aligned for us that night and of course I said yes! We can’t thank lantern fest enough for providing such a romantic and memorable setting for our engagement. We are looking forward to coming back each year and reliving the experience!

Sign of Hope

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I heard about this event a while back and immediately wanted to go. Time went by and I never made an effort to get anyone together. At the last minute I was able to take off work, so I grabbed my camera and one of my best friends and headed to the event. As the lanterns started floating upward, it was like watching everyone’s energy fade away into the night sky. I was so mesmerized; I didn’t get much photography done. Which means there will be a next time! We were so happy that we got to see something so beautiful that meant something to so many people. It was a sign of hope for a city that desperately needed it.