Lantern Festival causes problems for neighbors living near speedway

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ERIE, Colo. — Hundreds of lanterns lit up the sky Saturday night at Colorado National Speedway as the venue hosted the fall Lantern Festival that drew in crowds from all over.

The event was supposed to continue Sunday night but was canceled because of heavy winds. Although many visitors were left disappointed, neighbors near the speedway are relieved.

“We were watching it not really knowing what it was, but liking it. It was beautiful,” Lauren Gueswel said.

She said the view was stunning, until close to 200 lanterns landed on her 40-acre farmland.

“I was extremely concerned and a little angry,” Gueswel said.

Gueswel and her husband chased after the debris while also trying to calm spooked animals.

“Terrified. They were absolutely terrified,” Gueswel said.

The lanterns blew nearly five miles to end up on her property. The couple was worried about dry patches of grass.

“Several of these were landing with embers still burning,” Gueswel said.

A spokesman for the event said the lanterns never hit the ground still hot. Several organizers from the event visited the farm to help pick up the leftover lanterns. They said cleanup is always protocol.

The event website said, “Lantern fest deeply values our relationship with the communities and fire departments we work with and work closely with these community departments to ensure our event is safe and sustainable.”

But Gueswel said it’s still much too dangerous.

“I don’t see why they’re being allowed to set fire into the air to land wherever the wind takes it,” Gueswel said.

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