Mysterious lights over Apalachicola Bay have been identified by Times readers.
One of the most read articles in the Feb. 14 Times dealt with mysterious orange globes seen floating silently in the sky on the evening of Feb. 9.
People on both ends of the county reported the objects and one person contacted the Mutual UFO Network with an account of the event.
After the article appeared online and was posted on Facebook, several other readers offered information about the event and one of these was Deputy R.J. Shelley of the Franklin County sheriff’s Department.
Shelley, who lives at Carrabelle Beach, spotted the glowing orange globes and, being curious by nature, decided to track them down.
In a Facebook post he wrote, “I was smart enough to go look for the source and I found it! They were people at the beach lighting Paper Hot Air things with candles! They lifted right into the sky and burned out after several minuets!”
The things were Japanese paper lanterns fitted with a candle that inflates them with hot air and lifts them skyward until the candle burns out or the paper ignites and goes out in a blaze of glory.
According to Wikipedia, sky lanterns are also known as Kongming lanterns, Chinese lanterns, sky candles or fire balloons. They are described as small hot air balloons and the article speculates they may be responsible for some UFO sightings.
In parts of East Asia, Mexico and parts of South America, they are a traditional toy and used in celebrations or religious ceremonies. When a person releases a sky lantern, his worries are said to drift away with it. According to tradition, they were also used as military signals by the Chinese.
The lanterns released at Carrabelle Beach were reportedly part of a memorial service.
Because of the potential to cause building or crop fires and because they may prove harmful to animals that ingest parts of the lantern, they have been banned in some countries.