In past years at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Chinese sky lanterns resembling miniature hot-air balloons have lit up the night, often with wishes written on their paper frame.
However, they have been banned from the festival this year, because they are a fire hazard.
Still, the wish-making will go on in a new format this year, one that may actually lead more wishes to come to fruition, thanks to local tech entrepreneur David Repas, winner of the Hackeroo app-making competition in Nashville last weekend.
His app, Lantern, allows the more than 80,000 Bonnaroo attendees to share their wishes – front row access to Jack White's performance, a selfie with Kanye West, a chance to make a wedding proposal on a stage, a free cold beer, etc. – and festival sponsors will try to make at least some of them come true. The wishes can range from the silly to the serious and Repas said there is potential for the stream of wishes to be shared on a screen at the festival.
"I wanted to have a virtual version that is maybe, in some ways better than the traditional way, although not as romantic," Repas said. "The goal is to actually surprise the wish makers and maybe start to grant some of these wishes without anyone really know it's happening."
As part of his prize, Repas, who founded mobile-based giveaway and promotions company Finagle,won $2,500 from Launch Tennessee, and he will be able to attend his first Bonnaroo in June as a VIP member. He said his main motivation for competing in the second-annual hackathon was VIP access to the Southland conference for entrepreneurs that takes place in Nashville days before the Bonnaroo festival.
If all goes as planned, the make-a-wish app could be included at both events.
Hackeroo, a 48-hour hackathon, was created last year by Travis Laurendine, who has launched similar hack events through his New Orleans-based Codemkrs organization aimed at creating new technology for events including the Super Bowl and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
"The goal was to open up Bonnaroo, itself, as a festival for integration by innovators from the local community and the Bonnaroo community," he said. "Your idea can be made part of the Bonnaroo tradition."
This year, Laurendine partnered with Southland producers Launch Tennessee and San Francisco-based tech publication Pando for the Hackeroo event.
Two other ideas that emerged from this year's Hackeroo include a location sharing app and a phone-charging bike, created by recent Middle Tennessee State University graduate Kyle Dobson. Laurendine said there is potential for a spinning class at Bonnaroo that would serve a dual purpose – exercise and phone charging for those camping out. While Bonnaroo is associated more with music, beer and relaxation than with exercise, Laurendine said the concert-goers' interest in yoga suggests spinning may not be that far-fetched.