Chinese Lantern Festival prepares for strong winds Friday

Chinese Lantern Festival prepares for strong winds Friday

SPOKANE, Wash. - Riverfront Park is preparing for strong winds Thursday night and Friday by taking extra precautions to make sure no Chinese lanterns are damaged in the Chinese Lantern Festival.

When last year's windstorm hit the Inland Northwest, few could have predicted just how damaging it would be. That's why Riverfront Park wanted to take extra measures this year to save the lanterns. The damage wasn't too bad last year, as the festival had just ended, however, several lanterns did end up being destroyed.

"We realized we needed to secure the lanterns more in place during that time, so we took efforts this year to really do that," said Riverfront Park Director Jon Moog.

Even before the Chinese Lantern Festival came to Spokane this year, park officials were thinking about those potential strong winds.

"What you'll see in the Lantern Festival this year is bigger stakes in the ground, concrete blocks securing the lanterns in place," Moog said.

Park officials say they will also be making sure fences surrounding the festival are secure. But, if any lanterns do get damaged by strong winds, the park says it's prepared.

"We do maintain artisans on site, and they will be repaired and replaced," said Moog.

And if you're concerned about the safety of you and your family during the storm, Moog says Friday may be a good day to just stay home.

"We really don't expect a lot of attendance at all during the windstorm," he said. "In fact, if people are concerned, we would encourage them not to come in, not to come to the park."

Riverfront Park hasn't even decided yet if the festival will be open on Friday. It will wait to see if any lanterns are damaged by the winds before making a decision.

The park is also taking other precautions ahead of the storm, including closing the SkyRide and carousel Friday.