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Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

Yesterday (22nd Feb 2016) was the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, the day of lighted lamps. The main place in Taiwan to celebrate this day is the Pingxi district in the mountains east of Taipei where they hold an annual Lantern Festival on the day. And it truly is a spectacular Lantern festival, given that thousands of lanterns float over the mountains of Pingxi that evening (I understand that in the days following the festival, teams of council run cleaners hike through the hillsides collecting the used lanterns from the area to dispose of them). Since we were lucky enough to be in Taiwan during the festival (although my husband would insist it was his expert planning), we, along with thousands of others, went to Pingxi to experience it. As expected, Pingxi was as busy as the Southern English town of Lewes during their famous Bonfire Night (i.e. it was rammed), but the transportation worked like a dream.

There were hundreds of buses carrying people back and forth between the terminal metro stop and Pingxi (about 40min bus ride) for 2 /person for a return journey. Even tough there were thousands of people there, we didn t really have to queue for the shuttle buses at either end. It still beats me how they did that! When it comes to efficiency, order and planning, maybe somewhat unexpectedly, based on our experience, Taiwan totally plays in the same league as Japan. The festival consisted of three main parts:

1. Food stalls

Like any festival, at the Lantern festival you could fill you stomach with all sorts of food, like fried chicken, meat/seafood skewers, fruit, sweets and stinky tofu.

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

2. Your messages to the World/Universe/Higher being

During the afternoon, before the main lantern event started at 6pm, many people sent their own lanterns into the sky, including us.

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

You can buy a lantern (for 3-4), write a message on the four sides of it and send it up into the sky. The main location for the spectators lantern lighting and sending off seemed to be the train track (see photos) an operating train track I might add! We quickly learned what happens when there is a train coming: with about 20 seconds of warning, someone starts blowing a whistle, people start shouting and screaming, and in a state of panic people rush to the side of the track (see photos below to see how close the public is to the passing train!).

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

The colour of the lantern signifies different fortunes. Our children chose two lanterns: red and pink, whose colour represented health/longevity and happiness, respectively.

The messages and wishes that we wrote on them were things like:

-World peace (although, I got distracted and misspelt it, so it ended up saying: Worl peace)

-I wish that everyone had clean water

-Greetings from Finland, England and Japan

-Princesses and Super Heroes 4ever

-I want to be a dinosaur scientist (which came out looking like it just said I want to be a dinosaur).

Lantern Festival | Our Osaka Blog

3. Lantern Festival show

This is the part of the festival of which you might have seen photos. Because we didn t want to push into the most crowded part of the festival, we were not at the actual area where they sent the lanterns off.

Instead, we parked ourselves about 100 meters away on a bridge with a good view of the area.

The lanterns were beautiful! (see video footage below)

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Officials break ground on new hotel in East Peoria

October 7, 2015 Updated Oct 7, 2015 at 6:46 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill.– Construction is underway for a brand new hotel in East Peoria. A ground breaking ceremony took place Wednesday morning for the new Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express hotel. The hotel will rival the Embassy Suites hotel that sits next to the Bob Michel Bridge as well as other lodging locations in East Peoria’s Levee District.

The hotel will be located just off I-74 on the riverfront next to Bass Pro Shop. Developers say the new hotel will have a more modernized feel compared to other Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express across the country. It will feature 95 rooms, an exercise facility and a meeting room.

“It’s the new prototype, so folks haven’t seen this version of Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express in this area before, this will be the first in the region,” said Dan Huber, CEO of Frontier Hospitality Group, the developer of the hotel.

Construction is already underway and officials plan for the hotel to be up and running by the summer of 2016. Several local businesses and officials have high hopes for the hotel and what it will bring to the community.

“We get calls on a regular basis from people out of town looking for lodging and things and what an awesome thing to have, you know, a hotel right in our own parking lot, said Jim Goff, general manager of Bass Pro Shops. The addition of another hotel in East Peoria has both local businesses and officials excited for the future.

“I credit the council in having the courage to invest in the future and I truly believe that, because if you don’t invest in the future nothing s going to happen,” said Rick Swan of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce.

Officials are expecting a lot to happen.

“As people pass by on this expressway they are going to see this hotel, they’re going to stay here, they’re going to shop in the community, they’re going to buy gas in the community so economically this is going to be a boost,” said Mayor Dave Mingus of the city of East Peoria. Officials expect this hotel will not only have a positive impact on East Peoria, but they expect it will bring even bigger things to the entire Peoria area.

“Everybody that comes to the community and stays in that hotel is going to generate tax revenue for the community. Having another quality product online is just only going to better our offer for visitors coming in,” said Cory Hatfield with the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The hotel is not the only project in the area; developers have already laid out another plot right next to it and are currently looking for an investor.

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