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Green Grove Gardens to offer Hot Air Balloon Show

Event will also feature a variety of food and craft vendors, music and children's activities

June 30, 2010|By DANA BROWN
  • Keith McCleaf
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GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Green Grove Gardens Operations Manager Keith McCleaf has his sights set high as he readies the event center for its inaugural Hot Air Balloon Show set for July 30 to Aug. 1.

McCleaf said he hopes the balloon show is a unique, family-oriented festival that offers a bird's-eye-view of the facility's more than 40 acres of manicured lawns and gardens and the surrounding countryside.

Festivalgoers will have the chance to rise 125 feet above Green Grove Garden's grounds in a tethered balloon, travel cross-country on a "free flight" balloon ride or simply view the balloons with their feet still firmly on the ground.

This is an opportunity for us to provide the community with a function that is family fun and something they wouldn't see otherwise," McCleaf said. "There's nothing like it in the immediate area."

Planning for the 3-day event started in November, McCleaf said. The first step, he said, was to contact a balloonmeister to oversee all flight activities. David Robinson, of Windjammer Balloons, fit the bill, McCleaf said. In addition to inviting pilots and scheduling flight times, the balloonmeister briefs pilots daily on weather and wind conditions to ensure the flights are safe for balloonists and their passengers.

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Robinson said 12 balloon pilots from several states, including Florida, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, will attend the invitational hot air balloon festival.

Robinson anticipates the balloons will travel through the Cumberland Valley or "wherever the wind blows."

"We're excited because it's such a pretty area," Robinson said. "It's going to be a real treat."

The highlight of the festival will be the "night glow" on Saturday when the balloons are filled with hot air but remain tethered to the ground offering a spectacular visual effect, Robinson said.

"They're like giant, colorful light bulbs," he said.

Five flights are scheduled and will likely take off at sunrise when winds are most favorable, Robinson said.

The cost is $15 per vehicle for parking and admission each day and festivalgoers can "come and go" throughout the day, McCleaf said.

"We are trying to meet everybody's tastes at a value," he said. "I think it is going to be fun for everybody. We look for a positive reaction from the area."

In addition to the hot air balloon show, the event will feature a variety of food and craft vendors, music and children's activities throughout the weekend.

The cost for a "free flight" balloon ride is $175 per person. The balloons can hold 2 to 4 passengers depending on the size of the attached basket. Flights will last 30 minutes to an hour depending on the winds, Robinson said. The balloons are followed by a chase crew who will drive passengers back to the launch site at Green Grove Gardens.

Tethered rides cost $10 per person.

McCleaf said this is the "first big outdoor event" for the center and he hopes it will attract close to 5,000 people this year.

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For more information about the Green Grove Gardens Hot Air Balloon Show go to http://www.windjammerballoons.com.

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