BENSON— Members of the community gathered in Benson Saturday to release lanterns and honor the memory of those who are no longer with us, but strong winds made the ceremony impossible to complete.

The third annual Lantern Festival was scheduled for earlier in the year but was postponed due to the coronavirus. After Saturday’s blustery conditions, the festival will need to be rescheduled yet again.

Although the festival was postponed, outgoing Benson Mayor Toney King discussed the significance of the event Saturday with the Herald/Review.

“We believe that whenever this is put on, it gives so much hope to people,” King said. “We are here from the city and other volunteers have kept it up. Throughout the day and through the rain and everything, people still stayed. It’s a real special moment when the balloons go up.”

He said the event has different meanings for everyone.

“For different people it has different relations. It’s based on what they’re doing it for,” he said. “I know it sounds strange, but once you get that and you’re thinking about it in your head, you say, ‘You know, what am I doing this for?’ So you write something on it. Then you take it.”

The idea for the original festival was the brainchild of city clerk Vicki Vivian.

“It started two years ago. So, I went to (a lantern festival),” she said. “It was called ‘Lanterns over the Lake.’ So that’s when I came back to the people of Benson.

“It’s nice to also be able to have it for our residents, to be able to have something for them to do.”

Since that first year, it has had a powerful impact on people’s lives, she said.

“You can go in and read the comments from the first one, and so many people said ‘I just lost my sister’ or ‘I just lost my mom’ or ’ I lost my child,’ and how it gave them a sense of closure, in that they were able to kind of send that message.”

“Oh, I cried just reading all of them,” Vivian said.

On Thursday, Vivian updated the Herald/Review regarding the third annual Lantern Festival.

While the Lantern Festival will not be rescheduled for a future date and time, Vivian is working with the San Pedro golf course to provide individuals who decorated a white-cloth balloon a private appointment in the future to release their balloons out at the golf course as an alternative that she hopes is “still meaningful.”

Vivian can be contacted for further information at (520)-586-2245.