2017 Lincoln Balloon Festival
August 25th thru 27th

First night of the Lincoln Balloon Festival… flawless

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[August 28, 2017]  From the perspective of the thousands of spectators who came to Lincoln on Friday evening for the first flight and glow of the 2017 Lincoln Balloon Festival, the best word for the evening might have been “flawless.”

Crowds gathered in the early evening, anxious to see the first launch of 25 or more balloons from the Logan County Airport grass runway.

It was an interactive evening, with people getting up close to the balloons and pilots, viewing the process and grabbing photos of friends and family in front of the massive hot air balloons as they were being inflated.

Kids were mesmerized by the size of the balloons and delighted by the special shape balloons that appeared in time for the Friday night glow.

At the first launch, as each balloon lifted off loud cheers sounded for the mass of people gathered on the sidelines. Pilots and their riders enjoyed looking down on the airport filled with happy faces, many taking photos, others waving a temporary “good-bye” as all knew the balloons would return later in the evening to finish out the night with a balloon glow event.

In its 17-year history, Lincoln Daily News has always been a proud supporter and sponsor of the Lincoln Balloon Festival. This year the owners and staff were thrilled to have their name on the side of a balloon as a Balloon Sponsor.

One of the perks is that LDN was treated to a second opportunity to take to the skies. On Friday night, John and Trisha Fluckiger climbed into the basket with pilot Mike Boylan and drifted over Lincoln and Logan County in Wild Rover.

John and Trisha are the daughter and son-in-law of LDN owners Jim and Jan Youngquist. Neither had ever ridden in a hot air balloon, and both were excited for the chance to have a new experience. One phenomenon the couple noted was also mentioned by LDN’s Teena Lowery after her Thursday evening media flight. They were surprised at how clearly you could hear people talking on the ground; and more peculiar, while passing over neighborhoods, they could hear what sounded like 100 hounds barking at the balloons from all directions at the same time.

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After the launch, a special social hour was held at the V.I.P. tent. Guests enjoyed finger foods and beverages and visited with special guests Natalie Marquez, founder of the Downs Syndrome Advocacy Group, Nancy Gianni founder of Gigi’s Playhouse, and Illinois Senator Bill Brady.

Guests at the social hour enjoyed food and friends up until the time when balloonists returned for the evening glow.

This year there are three special shape balloons at the Lincoln Balloon Festival. Tom the Cat and Terry the Mouse are on hand, sponsored by the city of Lincoln; and Humpty Dumpty is appearing this year, sponsored by the Lincoln Logan County Chamber of Commerce.

All three balloons inflated for the glow and for many youngsters especially, the special shapes were the highlight of the night.

Emcee Tom McLaughlin, joined by his wife Brittany, prompted the balloons to glow in sequences throughout the evening. Balloonists shot flames into the envelopes and produced glows and flickers much to the delight of the crowd.

As the sun gave way to the twilight and evolved into night, the balloons continued to delight the audience until finally it was time to call it a night.

The balloons will return on Saturday evening for a second performance. As is the tradition, half of the balloons participated in the Friday glow and the other half, plus the special shape balloons will participate in the Saturday evening glow.

The airport will open at 10:30 a.m. today, with lots to do in the Kid Zone, special events at Gigi’s Playhouse, lots of food opportunities, and much more.

The evening launch should take place around 6 p.m. and the glow will commence at dusk as pilots return from their evening flight.

[Nila Smith]

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