Refunds Continue in Limbo Amid Lantern Fest Legal Review

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Nearly one month after South Padre Island city council members denied a permit for the Lantern Fest to operate, ticket holders are still left without a refund.

Cynthia Godinez said she was one of them.

"We've been reaching out to them since last month and they haven't told us anything about a refund,” she told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Godinez said she filed a claim with her bank after never getting a response about a refund from Lantern Fest organizers.

She said the bank issued her a refund. However, many other ticket holders said they’ve not received their refund.

Lantern Fest director Spencer Humiston told CHANNEL 5 NEWS more than 1,500 tickets have already been sold.

"We were assured that we could do it. We sold tickets and then they kind of pulled the rug from out under us," he said.

Humiston claims tickets were sold because a contract with South Padre Island had already been signed.

"The city is not in possession nor does it have any knowledge of a legally-signed contract," said South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau director Keith Arnold.

Arnold said the contract Lantern Fest has in possession is a draft version. He said it also does not contain his correct signature.

A check provided to us by Lantern Fest shows South Padre Island paid $22,500 to hold the event. The money came from the CVB'S special events fund, which is generated from hotel occupancy taxes.

The money was paid to Lantern Fest before the operating permit was denied.

"That was given to them legitimately under the policy terms of the special event funds and so that will remain with them," said Arnold.

Arnold said it's standard policy to pay the organization prior to permit issuance.

"When our board – when the CVB board sees that an item is worthy, they're going to use it primarily for marketing the event and marketing South Padre Island. Then they can receive up to 75 percent in advance," he explained.

Humiston said he's hopeful attorneys will work out an agreement to still be able to hold the event.

"We're stuck holding the bag now on everything after having sold these tickets," he said.

The city of South Padre Island is holding firm saying the event will not take place.


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