Monday, October 19, 2015

Carolina Balloon Festival

I grew up just outside Binghamton, NY, an average city-town. The population probably compares to a place like Asheville or Anchorage. Smaller than Syracuse but large enough to not be called a small town. Anyway, Binghamton was a release point for hot air balloons on any nice weathered summer morning or afternoon. Seeing hot air balloons was part of my childhood. Bonus, at least twice a month or so, they flew directly over our country home (we were about 5 - 8 miles out in the sticks). We would hear the gush of flames and run outside, prepared to wave. 

Fast forward 20 some years, and I am living and teaching in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I come to find out many of my students have NO idea what a hot air balloon is. They don't fly in this area.

Except, once a year. 

The Carolina Balloon Festival, about 40 miles north of Charlotte is a great experience every October to see about 20 - 30 hot air balloons. 

 In fact, the event has become too big for its britches. 3 years ago, when I took Brycen, no one I knew had heard of the festival. There was ample room to walk around.

Now, all lots are full by 2pm, HOURS before the launch. We found this out the hard way on Saturday, when we arrived at the shuttle bus lot at 2:15. (Luckily we had a plan B for B and his cousins, and they were just as content, if not more).

And my mom and I braved it out Sunday morning to take Brycen. We had to leave by 7am to drive north and see the 8am fly over. A hard frost covered the grass and the temperature was freezing, literally 32 degrees. But despite his shivering, Brycen LOVED seeing the balloons, especially the one shaped as Darth Vader.

Darth Vader on the horizon!

Looking up!!

Brycen's other favorite was the balloon with the farm scene. 

Back in the parking lot, we chatted with a man who has NEVER SEEN a hot air balloon until this day. I would put the man in his early 70s. I just can't imagine a life without such experiences. I try to give Brycen all sorts of opportunities and adventures to live life to its fullest. I wish I could do the same for more.

My little photographer. Today's lesson: Taking 400 pictures of the same subject will fill your memory card and cause irrational behaviors.

Brycen at the 2012 festival, with much less people. He was 10 months old. 

B at the 2013 Fest. He was 22 months. Look at those curls! We did not take him in 2014, although my mom and I did drive up and watched the balloons from outside the fest.

Side note: Yes, that is B with the camera in 2015. He had all his curls cut off Saturday morning!!


  1. Curls or no curls, your son is beyond adorable! Great photos....and a great story too! Continue to enjoy your days full of Autumn sunshine!

  2. many good memories. Our area of VA used to have hot air balloons from 1979 to maybe 1984(?), but nothing since and I don't know why.
    The multicolored, rainbowish balloon reminds me of one we saw regularly here.
    We would get so happy and excited if one landed on the golf course behind our house or at a neighbors!
    Also, Brycen's delight at seeing a Darth Vader balloon reminded me when we lived in Endicott and Robbie had a little friend, Seth.
    Seth's pronunciation of that Star Wars character (so huge a deal in 1976) was "Doris Shrader". To this day that gives me a giggle!
    Love all your pumpkin craftiness!

  3. So cool that you grew up watching got air balloons -- and that you're continuing the tradition with B! I don't know if I've ever seen a hot air balloon up close like this -- I have always wanted to travel around the world in one like the book though!


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