Welcome to The Beach. Our waters and sky lanterns are glorious, but mind our sharks and drug lords. These delicate paper fliers, most notably featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio film, are Asian in origin but travel all over the world to take part in festivals, public celebrations, and private events in need of some illumination in numbers.
Sky lanterns' fire-retardant paper walls expand to a base diameter of 12" and a height of about 2'. Similar to a hot air balloon, users light a flame at the center of their base, and then turn them over to the air. Inflated, buoyant, and glowing, most float to a height of over 3,000 feet during a flight time of 10 to 12 minutes.
As evidenced by the above video, the effect of a crowd releasing sky lanterns en masse is pretty striking. Even for someone like me, who typically feels moved only by things with boobies. In fact, now I would very much like to be invited to a sky lantern launch party to see in person these delicate vessels take off and ascend toward heaven or, more preferably, Endor.
The sky lanterns listed here are sold in packages of 10 to 100, and come in a choice of all white or multi-colored (yellow, green, white, pink, blue, purple, red, and orange). Though intended to be safe and easy to use, several safety precautions are recommended. These include ensuring the prevailing winds are not stronger than 5 mph, avoiding lantern release near trees and dry crops, and not within 5 miles of an airport, and not handing your kids a pack of sky lanterns and a box of matches with the instructions to "Go play."