A crowd of 1200 children and parents turned up to Light Nelson's Float a Wish event at Queen's Gardens last night.
The second annual event brought together students from primary schools across the city to showcase their biodegradable rafts and lanterns.
Each hand-made lantern held a tea light and was set free on the duck pond paired with a wish for the community, after a blessing from Archdeacon Harvey Whakaruru.
There were harp players alongside a roving multi-coloured taniwha and a spectacular display of fire dancers.
Nico Sowrey, 10, from Nelson Central School set his lantern free and wished "for everyone to be happy".
He said being at Float a Wish with his friends and family and seeing everyone having fun made him happy.
Other wishes from children included "I wish for no litter around the place" and "I wish that sharks and snakes and giant spiders never existed".
Some schools had been building individual lanterns and class-made rafts during school time, seeing some larger boat-like vessels take the water.
Councillor and MC for the event Matt Lawrey said it was fantastic for kids to have things to look forward to in winter.
"It's great to see Nelson supporting its creative types," said the father-of-two.
"This is the kind of stuff you remember as a child. Getting out in the middle of winter, rugging up and being part of something bigger."
Co-ordinator Hilary Johnstone said 750 children made rafts for the event, which made the event "bigger and better" than last year.
She wanted to thank the schools for their participation and said the evening wouldn't have been possible without their support.
"We had perfect luck to have a still, calm night for two years running," said Johnstone.
"It always amazes me to see the kids so mesmerised by the magic."
Float a Wish was the opening event for this year's Light Nelson festival, which begins next week.
Light Nelson, July 11-13, nightly at 5.30-9.30pm, Queen's Gardens and surrounds, Hardy and Bridge Streets, plus Albion Square and NMIT Arts and Media building and campus. Neon synth band performs at the Cathedral 5.30pm nightly. Entry: free.
- The Nelson Mail
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