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
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
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.