Skylantern launch leaves Fox Valley for Wisconsin
By Erika Wurst email@example.com October 14, 2013 6:06PM
Sky lanterns like these used to be legal in Illinois. | Sun-Times Media File
Updated: November 16, 2013 6:21AM
Jennifer Slepicka can vividly recall the feeling she got last year when she saw more than 200 skylanterns float up-up-and away in memory of those whose lives were cut short by suicide.
The Stars of Hope Skylantern Festival, hosted by local Suicide Prevention Services in the fall of 2012, was magical, and bound to be repeated, Slepicka, the event organizer, said.
“It was a beautiful moment that you can’t even coin a word to describe,” Slepicka said of the event, which drew hundreds to Yorkville to raise money for the organization, while remembering those they have lost. “It was like looking up at God.”
That joy, however, was short lived. By the time event organizers prepared for their second lantern launch this summer, Illinois had banned the paper skylanterns, leaving volunteers to scramble for alternatives.
“I grieved it for a long time,” Slepicka said. “To build an event up to be so big, and to have it taken away was terrible.”
But, survivors aren’t quick to lose hope, and they didn’t.
Later this month, the skylanterns will rise high again, but in Wisconsin where they are legal.
SPS is hosting Survivor Day on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Aurora University, George Williams College Campus in the Lake Geneva area. There, survivors will spend the day focusing on healing and self-care, and will end the day by sending up hundreds of skylanterns, recreating the moment Slepicka and others hold so dear.
“We will be participating in something that is overwhelmingly beautiful,” she said of the event, which will conclude an entire day of activities promoting togetherness for survivors of suicide.
The day will feature journaling, yoga, art and music therapy, drumming, jewelry making, a healing walk, food, a bonfire, and the lantern launch.
Skylanterns and registration must be secured by Oct. 18 by visiting the www.spsamerica.org website.
Closer to home, SPS will be hosting another fundraiser this Saturday at Oswego East High School. The Stars of Hope Festival will begin at 7 p.m. at the high school track, 1525 Harvey Road in Oswego.
Dancers, fire dancers, performers, musicians, and face painters will all be on hand at the event, which is hosted to raise awareness of suicide and the services SPS provides to local residents.
The track will be surrounded with luminaria bags, decorated and dedicated to loved ones lost. A balloon launch will take the place of a skylantern launch at the end of the evening.
“Our purpose is to provide hope, celebrate life, and provide suicide prevention awareness,” Slepicka said.
Celebration kits, which include four event tickets, a luminaria to decorate, a balloon, and glow necklaces will be pre-sold for $20 by visiting www.starsofhopefestival.com
Individual items, and event admission will be $5 each on the night of the event.
“This is a very busy month for us,” Slepicka said of October.