Friday, January 11, 2008

Poor weather hits Polo and Balloon Festival

Inclement weather kept the balloons grounded for much of the Ford Trucks Red, White & Blue Polo & Balloon Festival, but it didn't dampen the spirit of some festival-goers.

On Friday, the first day of the festival, spectators, bundled up in jackets and scarves, turned out at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino for the first scheduled balloon launch.

It was the only day the weather cooperated. Two other planned launches - on Saturday and Sunday morning - had to be canceled.

Most of the balloons were able to take flight on this cool, slightly breezy day, including Noah's Ark, Humpty Dumpty, a pirate in a barrel and a big yellow fish with red lips.

Some of the larger, special shape balloons - including the 166-foot Energizer Bunny balloon, which stands 15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty - were inflated but remained grounded.

"We're not sure what the winds are going to do," said Energizer Bunny pilot Glo Kehoe.

Kehoe is one of only six women in the U.S. who make their career as full-time, professional, corporate, hot air balloon pilots.

Justin Wolman, 8, said the big bunny balloon was one of his favorites. He launched into an impromptu imitation of the familiar Energizer commercials. He just kept going and going

Justin and twin brother Ben Wolman, visiting from Pacific Palisades on winter break, were enjoying the festival with their grandparents, Jerry and Lois Heisler of Palm Desert.

"It's just spectacular," Justin said of his experience at his first-ever balloon festival.

Ben said he enjoyed the animal-shaped balloons the best.

"The chipmunk, the dragon, Noah's Ark and the tree with the parrots," said Ben, listing his favorites.

The Heislers were looking for something to entertain their grandsons, they said.

"How often do you see such a thing," said Lois Heisler. "I thought it would be exciting for them to see."

No comments: