Lantern Release to be Held in Memory of Kelcey Hallinan and Carissa Dartt
By Emily Fedor
On August 20, 2014, Alicia Hallinan sent out a simple tweet: “Sky lanterns for @kelceyhal tonight 8:30 at DHS. If you have any bring them! This is gonna be beautiful!”
Alicia’s daughter Kelcey was 18 years old when she passed away on November 16, 2013 after fighting a brave battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But throughout the course of her battle, Kelcey became an inspiration to all who knew her—as well as many people who never had the pleasure.
Alicia went to the school with about 20 lanterns, expecting to meet, at most, a dozen of Kelcey’s closest friends. But to her surprise, far more than 12 people came out that night to honor her daughter.
“Like 75 people showed up,” said Alicia. “I wished I had more lanterns, but it was nice to have everyone together.”
The idea for the lantern release came from Kelcey’s favorite movie, Tangled. The animated film, which tells the tale of Rapunzel, features a moment that shows Rapunzel gazing at hundreds of paper lanterns floating up in sky from her window. The lanterns were released every year by Rapunzel’s family. The gesture was meant to let the lost princess know that wherever she was, she was remembered and loved.
This past month, Alicia paid a visit to the home of Jim and Karen Dartt to get together with some friends who also lost loved ones. The Dartt family lost their daughter Carissa in 2002. Carissa was a 22-year-old pre-med student attending Temple University when she tragically passed.
During the gathering, Jim brought out two paper lanterns of his own to set off.
“Over the years, we’ve seen these lanterns going up occasionally around Dunmore. I ordered them and started sending them up,” said Jim. “We brought some down to Puerto Rico…to visit my son…and we try to do them on the beach for our daughter.
Alicia told Jim about last year’s lantern release for Kelcey and how her family waned to hold the event again this year, but on a larger scale. Together they decided to turn the release into a fundraiser that would support both the KelceyStrong Scholarship and the Carissa Dartt Foundation.
Between the Hallinans, the Dartts and other donors, over one thousand lanterns have been made available for purchase to be a part of a massive lantern release on Friday, August 7. Gathering places currently include Dunmore High School and Sherwood Park, but all are invited to participate from any location. Lanterns will be promptly set off at 9 p.m.
Additionally, participation is not closed off to only those in the Dunmore area. According to Facebook, many people will be setting off lanterns from all over the country. It has also been confirmed that a rather famous friend of Kelcey’s has been contacted and informed of the event plans.
The idea is to light up the sky as a sign to all of our lost loved ones—especially Kelcey and Carissa—letting them know they have not been forgotten and are still very much loved.
If all goes well, as it is expected to, the fundraiser will most likely become an annual occurrence.
“We’ve never had a fundraiser for the scholarship for Kelcey, so I said this would be a really good idea,” said Alicia. “And I just can’t believe how many people are responding. It’s amazing.”
“I think no matter what direction you look that evening, you’re going to see these lanterns,” said Jim Dartt.
The lanterns can currently be bought for $5 each at various locations in Dunmore including but not limited to Cara Mia’s on East Drinker Street, DePietro’s Pharmacy at intersection of 3rd Street and Wheeler Avenue, and Lox Unlimited on the corner of Apple and Harper Streets. They will also be on sale on the day of the release at the Dunmore High School student parking lot.
All participants are encouraged to share photographs on social media using the following hashtags: #LanternsForTheLostPrincess, #LightingUpDunmore and #KelceyStrong.
Note: The rain date for the event is scheduled for Saturday, August 8 at 9 p.m.