If York County officials reach their goal, at least 100 tea-light lanterns will illuminate the Susquehanna River Saturday evening of April 28.
They're hoping the first Tea Light Lantern Float Festival at John Wright Restaurant will be inspirational - and profitable enough to support programs at the county's Youth Development Center, a 36-bed shelter for at-risk York County children. Organizers expect the float to become an annual event.
The county funds the youth facility, which houses children under 18 who have been removed from their homes for reasons such as truancy, abuse or neglect, said county spokesman Carl Lindquist.
But there's a host of other recreational opportunities and special programs, such as a graffiti and litter cleanup partnership with the York County Sheriff's Office, which are funded by donations and grants, he said.
Last year, children from the center spent a collective 3,000 hours on community service, cleaning about 350 properties throughout the county. Fundraising pays for transportation, paint, tools and other supplies, he said.
"These are additional services provided to help kids and the community," he said. "One of the shelter's goals is to provide children with a foundation to become successful adults, and ... that includes community involvement."
Lindquist said the lanterns symbolize inspiration and hope to children who might be struggling with their lives.
"Often, children who stay at the facility have limited family support," he said. "The goal of this programming is to help the children learn the life skills, work ethic and self-respect they need to overcome any adversity they may face."
Details: The county is hoping to sell at least 100 lanterns, available for $10 each, which Lindquist said is a "modest goal" set for the inaugural event.
The festival starts at 6 p.m., with live entertainment including a band, a disc jockey, a former resident of the center playing guitar, a baked-goods sale and a silent auction with items donated from John Wright's, Susquehanna Glass, Cool Creek Golf Course, Moon Dancer Winery and the Riverfront Barbershop and Salon.
At 8 p.m. the tea-light lanterns will be placed in the Susquehanna to float downstream, where they'll be collected by people in boats.
Lanterns can be purchased through Tuesday at www.ycydc.org, calling 840-7570, or visiting the Youth Development Center, 3564 Heindel Road in Springettsbury Township. Lanterns can also be purchased at the day of the event, at John Wright Restaurant, 234 N. Front St. in Wrightsville.
Individuals or companies interested in volunteering or becoming a mentor to the children can call Tony Zorbaugh at 840-7570.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter at @YDYorkCounty.