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Brazilian balloons set to fly at festival

2013-09-06T13:25:00Z 2013-09-06T23:28:04Z Brazilian balloons set to fly at festivalAMANDA MAY METZGER -- ametzger@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star

From South America to the Adirondacks, two special-shape balloons will make their first Warren County appearances at the Adirondack Balloon Festival after they were recently built in Brazil.

Officials this week announced more details about the Sept. 19-22 festival, including a new bicycle tour.

For Jewel, a hummingbird balloon adorned in bright tropical hues, the festival will be the first East Coast appearance.

Jewel was built this summer in Brazil and has only appeared twice before — once in Canada and once in Reno, Nev.

“The hummingbird is a really big deal because she’s making her first East Coast debut in the United States,” said festival board of directors President Mark Donahue.

Jewel is based in Arizona and will be flown by Mark Schilling of Cambridge, Vt.

Pea-Nut the elephant, built in Brazil in 2012, will be making a first appearance at the festival.

Pea-Nut is owned by Tony Saxton of New Jersey and will be piloted by Scott Saxton.

Donahue said historically many of the special-shape balloons were made in Europe, but a manufacturer in Brazil is building an industry presence.

“It’s a new up-and-coming manufacturer,” Donahue said. “Many of the other shapes we’ve had in the past came from Europe.”

Also making its festival debut will be the “Wicked” hot air balloon.

The balloon is designed to promote the Broadway musical by Stephen Schwartz. The round balloon is black with the musical’s logo on it.

“That is new this year as well. It’s on a promotional tour for the Broadway musical. It’s also a touring Broadway musical, so it’s not just in New York City. That balloon is making its rounds to numerous cities,” Donahue said.

He said the balloon, because it’s black, will look unique with the logo illuminated during the Moon Glow launch.

Officials announced earlier that Stinky the skunk, another special-shape balloon, will make its Adirondack debut.

The skunk balloon is owned by John Cavin of Georgia, who has attended the festival for many years. His other balloon, The Purple People Eater, a returning favorite, also will be launched this year.

Another special shape, Clawd the Crazy Crab, will return to the festival this year. Clawd is owned and flown by pilot Jim Regan, a veteran balloonist and firefighter from Kensington, Conn.

Spyderpig, flown by Wayne Bond, Dingbat, flown by Peter Griswold and Pigheaded, flown by Keith Sproul, also are scheduled for the event.

Donahue said 98 balloons are registered for the event so far. Registration is capped at 100.

Anyone interested in a balloon ride should make arrangements directly with the balloonists. The festival’s website, www.adirondackballoonfest.org, has a list of balloonists. Pricing and special arrangements are discussed with the pilots. The festival does not book rides.

This year, the event, split between Crandall Park in Glens Falls and Warren County airport in Queensbury, is listed by the American Bus Association as one of the top 100 events in North America. The balloon festival is the only event in the region to receive the designation, according to a news release from festival officials.

New this year, a bicycle tour will be hosted by the Warren County Safe and Quality Bicycling Organization at the airport at 10 a.m. Sept. 21. The 5-mile tour of the airport will be led by an airplane pilot. Door prizes will be offered.

Donahue said it was a way to promote the idea of people biking to the airport for the festival.

“It’s a unique concept to say you can bike around an airport runway,” Donahue said. “Since the airport (runway) is closed (to planes), it’s a unique opportunity to see the airport from a unique perspective.”

Special designated VIP parking at the airport’s main entrance was a new feature last year and will be continued this year.

Passes for the weekend cost $15 and can be purchased at the festival’s website.

New this year, people can purchase special VIP parking passes at the Glens Falls City Hall clerk’s office, Queensbury town office, Warren County Municipal Center (treasurer’s office) and Warren County Department of Public Works offices in Warrensburg.

Festivities will kick off Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. at Crandall Park in Glens Falls with the Stony Creek Band performing from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., opening ceremonies at 5 p.m., launch of up to 20 balloons and tethered balloon rides after the ceremony and a city Block Party from 6 to 9:30 p.m. featuring walk-about balloons, a car show and kids activities.

There will also be a “candlestick glow,” meaning five balloon baskets will have their burners on together, which will “basically light up the downtown,” Donahue said.

The block party will not include fireworks this year.

Gates open at 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at the airport with a craft fair, kids activities and food vendors. At 5 p.m. more than 80 balloons, including special shapes, are scheduled to launch.

The Sept. 21 schedule includes the bicycle tour at 10 a.m. and balloon launches at 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and the 8 p.m. Moon Glow launch illuminating the sky with more than 20 balloons.

On Sept. 22, a simultaneous flight of up to 100 balloons, called “Walter’s Mass Ascension,” is set for 6:30 a.m. The flight honors the festival’s late co-founder, Walter Grishkot.

Another launch Sept. 22 is set for 5 p.m. at Crandall Park.

Other activities during the weekend include a

craft fair hosted by Zonta International with more than 30 vendors, kids activities such as bounce houses, a rock climbing wall and an aircraft display from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 21 and 6 a.m. to noon Sept. 22.

Musical performances include the alternative rock trio Vontus from 3 to 4:45 p.m. Sept. 21 at the airport and the Jonathan Newell Band from 2 to 5 p.m. at Crandall Park on Sept. 22.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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