New Albany Tourism and Pilot Club team up to create new summer event

When Betty King of the New Albany Pilot Club approached Sean Johnson, New Albany’s tourism director about working with him on various events, neither knew that a new festival was in the making. The two were talking about RiverFest and other possible events and Johnson asked Betty to look at something on the computer. He had pulled up a video from a festival in Poznan, Poland where participants attempt to release a record number of Chinese lanterns each year.

Chinese lanterns, also known as “lampoons” or “fire lanterns” are non-flammable paper balloons with a bamboo and wire base that contains a paraffin element. The paraffin is lit, the balloon fills with hot air and physics takes over – with beautiful results.

Once she saw the video, Mrs. King was all for helping out with the event.

“When you watch the videos of these types of events, you’ll see that it’s a wonderful experience for families to get out and do something unique with the community,” says Johnson. “As well, the beauty and uniqueness of the event makes for pretty video…and while we expect individuals to be videoing the event, we’ll also have professional videographers on hand and will use footage of the event for new promotional videos for the city.”

If the weather cooperates, the release will take place on Saturday, June 21, at dusk at the soccer fields near the Tennis Complex. “If it’s too windy or if there are burn advisories in effect, we’ll not be able to do the release,” says Johnson.

But if all goes as hoped, there will be food vendors on site as well as light music to set the mood. The Chinese lanterns will also be available for purchase on site for $3. Tables and markers will also be provided if participants want to write messages on the balloons. All the proceeds from the event will go back into a fund to create other fun events.

“While this event is just the lantern release this year, we’re hoping that it will turn into something larger that we can do next summer,” says Johnson.

For more information on the event and to view a video of the balloons being released, visit the New Albany Facebook Page (ILOVENA) at or call 662-534-1047.