Council kills Lantern Fest amid environmental concerns
By KEVIN RICH
Special to the PRESS
The South Padre Island City Council weighed the economic rewards against safety and environmental concerns regarding Lantern Fest during its Wednesday, Aug. 2 meeting, as members considered whether or not to issue a permit for the event.
City Manager Susan Guthrie introduced the agenda item by describing the event’s positive impact on the Island’s economy. “I heard anecdotally hotel occupancy was significantly up. I think some of the restaurants had their best night ever of business the night of the lantern festival,” said Guthrie. She also noted the economic significance of it being held in the off season.
Guthrie went on to describe concerns that were reported by members of the community after the event. “Concerns were raised about the safety of the event and how it affected the environment,” Guthrie reported. She explained that after a subsequent public meeting, it was decided the City would not permit the event until after a scientific study of the biodegradability of the lanterns was completed.
The scientific study on this subject was performed by SPI Shoreline Management Director Brandon Hill, and results were shared at the July 26 meeting of the SPI Convention and Visitors Advisory (CVA) Board. Guthrie reported that after hearing the results, the CVA Board voted to recommend the event to City Council for its approval. “Now normally, an event would come to me, to permit it, but because the Board voted to send it to you as a recommendation, that’s why it’s before you today,” Guthrie explained to Council.
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