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Officials: Lantern Parade Smashed Old Attendance Record

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Hold on to your hats, kiddos, because Beltline officials are claiming attendance for this year's Lantern Parade not only set a record — but nearly tripled the expected turnout. In six years, the magical annual kickoff to the Art on the Atlanta Beltline exhibition has grown from a few hundred attendees and spectators to an estimated 60,000 this year. (The attendance in 2014 was pegged at a wee 20,000, which seemed amazing back then). The 2015 incarnation was big enough to require five marching bands and a kickoff party (the inaugural Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival) for the kickoff party, which was like pre-gaming for tailgating. For an observer who stayed put, the parade of homemade LED glowy things lasted roughly an hour and a half. It's unclear how officials arrived at the 60,000 estimate, but if their modus operandi is anything like that of Atlanta Streets Alive, a team of people-counters was placed in strategic positions to take surveys through the night.