Messages of encouragement, personal goals and silly doodles glowed in the Trinity River on Oct. 16 during the Fort Worth Water Lantern Festival. 

Dallas resident Nayetzi Palma, 25, her boyfriend Alejandro Guevara, 25, and her longtime friend, Alex Rodriguez, 21, attended the festival to reconnect after a difficult year. Palma decorated her lantern in honor of her deceased relatives.

“We’ve dealt with the loss of family, and this is a good way for us to remember them, and, also, to just connect with each other,” Palma said. “I miss my little sisters and grandma so much, and this is a good way for me to remember them.”

Rodriguez lost his grandmother and then his grandfather not too long after. The group of friends planned to get together for the event nearly a month ago. They were among the hundreds who gathered at the Panther Island Pavilion to decorate and release their lanterns into a small section of the Trinity River.

Further inland, high school couple Kaden Jackson, 15, and Aspen Overmeyer, 15, laughed as they played a game of cornhole against each other. The teens had been completing a scavenger hunt before their game.

Closer to the water, Valerie Betancourt, 28, and her boyfriend, James Conzelman, 28, heard about the festival through Instagram. Betancourt visited Fort Worth from Tampa Bay for the weekend.

Betancourt planned ahead and wrote positive affirmations on her lantern, and Conzelman wrote his personal goals on his.

“I tried to do mine all positive things that I’m looking forward to or what I want in my life,” she said. ‘I’m trying to let go of all the negativity.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSotoCommunity Engagement Journalist

Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...

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