Lights Fest Causes Concerns for Local Officials and Residents

LUBBOCK,TX - Lights Fest is coming to Lubbock for the first time on Saturday and with 4,000 people expected to attend, attention both positive and negative surrounds the event.

It is a Chinese lantern light show, where people can purchase tickets online and meet through the organized event to set off their lanterns in the sky.

Viive is the company throwing this event at the Lubbock Speedway on February 25 starting at 2 p.m. Food, games, and activities are planned until the sun sets and the lanterns can be set off individually. 

However, since West Texas is in the height of fire-threat season, Lubbock Fire Rescue and residents have concerns that these lanterns are an immense fire hazard to the area.

"We take this very serious, this isn't something that we just kind of throw together," Viive Owner Drew said. "These lanterns are customized for every city we go to make sure it's safe, and it's our number one priority."

Lubbock Speedway is outside of city limits. Therefore, city statues do not have a ban on these activities in the county area. 

"Lubbock county does not require a permit for these types of events," Lubbock County Emergency Management Coordinator Clinton Thetford said.

Therefore, the organization has legal rights to continue with the event as long as good weather permits it is safe.

"The only concern we had was for a cotton gin in that area," Theftford added. "I actually reached out to the National Weather Service today. We've looked at what the predictions are for the weather, the wind, the temperature, the humidity, everything looks like it would be ok for the event to occur."

According to the NWS, Lubbock weather is forecasted for clear skies tomorrow, with low humidity, and winds. Thetford said the weather would have to reach the "Red Flag Warning" zone to cancel this event. 

"These aren't lanterns that we buy off Amazon," Drew said. "We test them, we customize them, we make sure they're good. It's the type of rice paper that doesn't engulf in flames."

Lubbock Fire Rescue does not have jurisdiction of this area. However, they said they will have units on the southeast side of town ready if danger sparks.

Thetford added Woodrow Volunteer Fire Department will be on-scene for the event. 

"They're going to have three grass trucks and one engine with all personnel and equipment necessary," Thetford said.
Drew added that these lanterns will be tested before the event starts. He said that a company official will light one as a test to see where it flies, and if any hazards arise. After they get approval from the fire department on scene, then they will move forward with the event.
Drew also added that these lanterns are designed to only be on fire for roughly two minutes, and should extinguish before hitting the ground.
Anyone interested in going to the event can still find tickets on their website.
Drew said tickets will be emailed to the customer, and then will need to check in at the event to receive their lantern.
"While a lot of these people come out for a fun experience, a lot of them are coming out to write a message about a lost loved one, or maybe they got fired from their job and they want to write a message to the universe about how they're going to start off better," Drew said. "You see these messages and they really just touch you in an emotional way."

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