San Francisco Water Lantern Festival sparks joy in hearts of many


Julia Roseborough

Lanterns are placed in the water as they begin to light up the festival

As a connection to the past and a bridge to the future, the Water Lantern Festival of San Francisco creates a beautiful scene while warming people’s hearts.

The festival travels all around the country and invites people from different communities to join together and release their lanterns into the water. The profits made during these events go towards funding charities and non-profit organizations.

Historically, the lanterns symbolize life and new beginnings; however, how this is interpreted is different for each participant. According to volunteers of the Water Lantern Foundation, around 5,000 people took part in this astounding event.

During this festival, volunteers were asked to come up on stage and share the stories of their lanterns. While shy at first, many volunteers began stepping up and sharing.

A young woman who spoke but chose not to reveal her name said, “I lost my fiance of 11 years in a car accident… and this is my way of honoring his life, that I am continuing to live for him. For me, this is my way of releasing to the universe all the pain that I’ve gone through.”

Ramesh Kumar Sharma, another festival attendee, traveled from India to visit his family, who live in the Bay Area. For him, the story behind the lantern has more cultural relevance.

“I come from a city where only a river flows through it. I used to go sit with my wife from the bank of the river and offer lighted lamps almost every day,” Sharma said.

Others, such as a speaker that went by Michelle, came out of hope for a new start. For them, the lanterns had more of a religious connotation.

“Two days ago, I had a really bad accident. I’m glad that I’m alive and that God gave me a second chance to live… and I want to connect and stay with God right now because he’s giving me more chances,” Michelle said.

Despite their different backgrounds and motives for coming, the attendees found common ground in the importance of the festival, as they joined each other to take part in this occasion.

The event director, Collin Maki, discussed his hope for the future as people continue to live and grow throughout their lives.

Maki said, “To me, it’s all about bringing a community together and making everyone realize that there’s a lot of good in the world still today, and people and memories and goals can still be accomplished.”