Saturday, July 26, 2008
Up, Up and Away
The excitement mounted as the balloon rose; the only sound the whoosh of the burner as the pilot fired flame into the envelope, heating the air. We floated silently, at the mercy of the winds, marveling at the world from above the trees. Off in the distance, other balloons hung in the air seemingly motionless. There were 4 people in our basket, we each stood in our own corner, watching the countryside flow beneath us. The pilot descended once, brushing the treetops with the bottom of the basket before firing the burner again. People on the ground ran out of their houses to wave as we floated by. We shouted and waved in return. The trip lasted over an hour. It was a birthday gift I will never forget.
I watched and clapped with the other onlookers as the balloons launched, back lit against a dying day at the NJ Festival of Ballooning. But my mind’s eye was filled with my own experience years and years ago.
The festival was fun, with the typical food and rides. There were mimes performing on high flexible pedestals, trampoline gymnasts, and throngs of people. The draw was the balloons. The morning launch of over 120 balloons was, from what I heard, spectacular. The evening launch that we saw, much less so. Because of high winds the launch was delayed until after 7pm, then only a few balloons rose with their paying customers.
If you go to a balloon festival I encourage you to get up at the crack of dawn to see the morning launch. Better yet, go up in one.