LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of people hoping to fly fire-lit lanterns in Southern California this Saturday are instead furious at the event’s cancellation.
The organizers of Saturday’s Lights Festival in Orange County posted a cancellation notice on Facebook just three days before the event, leaving hundreds of ticket holders – who paid between $30 and $55 per ticket – in the lurch.
The Lights Festival’s website marked all the events in Southern California, including April dates in Orange County and Los Angeles, as postponed, but a Facebook post said unequivocally that Saturday’s event was canceled.
The Orange County Lights Fest was supposed to take place at the Pala Raceway, in northern San Diego County.
“For those who have not heard, the March 25th Lights Fest event has been CANCELLED. We are in the process of opening up multiple new event sin the SoCal area throughout May,” the Facebook post read. “You will be able to list from any one of our upcoming events and your tickets will be transferred to your new event. STAY TUNED for the list of upcoming dates.”
Thelightsfest.com’s FAQ says that in the event of a cancellation, their policies are to return to the city within three months of the original date, when tickets to previously canceled events will be accepted. The company says it does not allow refunds, but has a form for refund request for California Residents.
San Gabriel Valley-area teacher Janine DeVera said she learned about the Lights Festival from a Facebook advertisement and paid $231.13 for passes for her family of four and a friend’s family of three. The purchase included $40 passes for the adults, $3 parking passes for each person — even the children — and $5 passes for the kids, but that pass did not include a lantern.
“I really wanted to go,” DeVera said. “I’m so, ugh. I’m so mad.”
The event — which was actually canceled in January due to wildfire concerns, according to reports — but news of the cancellation only became known after the company’s Facebook page posted the notice on the event page.
DeVera became concerned last Friday after seeing conflicting news on Facebook about the San Diego event. She reached out to the company after hearing about the rain forecast for Saturday via both email and Facebook. A few days later, the company informed DeVera that the event was canceled.
“They said they wanted to reschedule in June, but I’m not going to do that,” DeVera said, adding that she is still waiting on her refund.
Angry comments have taken over the cancellation post, and others for events in other cities.
“WARNING! I bought tickets for the san diego event. Pre-registered to get the tix for $30 each and still paid $55 (each). Stuck with it when it was moved to a location 4 hrs away, reserved a hotel and car just to learn it was cancelled the day before the event,” Shelly Baumanns commented on a Lights Fest events listing for Pittsburgh.
“They’re having a hard time finding a location. I think you should just ask for a refund/place a dispute on the charge and go to another light fest event that’s more legit. This company is shady. They don’t want to say it’s cancelled or else they would be obligated to refund (without ppl requesting for them) so that’s why they’re saying postponed even though they don’t have a place nor time.. they don’t any of their [expletive] together. I’ve requested for a refund nearly a month ago and they still haven’t processed it yet. They don’t deserve a dime from anyone,” Instagram user @missieess wrote in response to another user.
The Lights Festival is produced by Utah-based Viive Events, which says it is a for-profit company that partners with local charities in event cities. The Orange County event page, however, listed no charitable partners.
Colin Larsen, the owner of Viive Events and Lights Fest, said Friday that refunds will be issued, five to seven days after the scheduled date of the event and that an announcement with a new and already permitted venue and dates will be forthcoming.