Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ground Zero and the Festival of Lanterns

Is this New Years thing finally over? I’m not holding my breath. I’m sure people will be blowing off stuff late at night as long as they still have fireworks. Last night was the final official night of the festivities with the Festival of the Lanterns. It was a full moon which is supposed to be the end of all this brouhaha.
We live near a large open park which is one of the many ground zeros around town. Unlike the US firework celebrations there are no restrictions. There are everything from big exploding rockets to sparklers, and anyone with money and a match is launching stuff. The main activity is the 3 foot tall floating red lanterns. They are a paper hot air balloon with a fuel cube suspended on wires at the base. You light the cube, it fills up with hot air and it floats away. There are thousands of these things gently floating through the air toward the city. Prudent residents take their laundry in from the balconies. Since the buildings are all concrete, I don’t think anyone is burned out of their homes.
The park was a ton of fun with rockets going off everywhere, roman candles, and various other forbidden in the USA fun. You need to stay alert to the stray spinning fiery helicopter thingies that go fizzing by. Sometimes a rocket explodes near a floating lantern, but I didn’t see any direct hits. There were a couple of premature explosions, but I didn’t see any people in flames.
Its loud, smoky and very exciting. You would never see anything like this in the US due to the fact that we live in a total nanny state, all of our houses are made of wood and you could burn down half your state if you lived in the West.
This was by far the loudest and longest night. We were kept awake well into the wee hours by loud explosions and the subsequent car alarms set off by the concussions. Everyone was up nice and early today and I didn’t notice any eye patches on the kids.

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