Those who have never been on a hot air balloon ride can get a taste this evening at Elings Park. Park executive director Dean Noble and Dan Glick of Southern California-based Sunrise Balloons have teamed up to bring the park’s first ever Hot Air Balloon and Wine Festival.
The event takes place today from 5 to 9 p.m. at Elings Park.
Tickets cost $75 per person and includes unlimited samplings of wine, beer and cider from about 30 stalls according to Mr. Noble. Accompanying the drinks are empanadas, burgers and at least three hot air balloons, which attendees can ride for $10 per person.
The proceeds, according to Mr. Noble, will go towards the park and its programs. Though this hot air balloon event will be the park’s first, it likely won’t be the last.
“Maybe even more than annual,” Mr. Noble explained.
Mr. Noble said that he would like Elings Park to be what Central Park is for New York City.
Park regular Lindsay Anderson believes this is possible, especially “if they keep up events that they’re doing.”
Ms. Anderson told the News-Press that she and her son William attended the bounce house event held at the park last month. On Friday evening, the mother-son pair was joined by the whole family: Ms. Anderson’s husband, parents and in-laws. The family sipped cold drinks in the balmy weather, starting the festival a bit early. William, however, was not interested in the drinks the adults were having.
His eyes were set on the colorful hot air balloons.
He rushed toward one of the balloons, taking a grip one the ropes tethering them to the ground. Once he began pulling, all the adults tapped into the child within them and played along with the youngster.
Deanna Naegele, sky diver and hot air balloon pilot, slightly lowered the balloon once William pulled the rope with all his might, in an attempt to bring the balloon down. Both Ms. Anderson and her husband, Seth, playfully attempted to bring the balloon back to Earth.
At one point, the hot air balloon yanked William onto the grass, and he fell with a dull thud. All the adults surrounding him let out groans and “oohs,” but the child immediately got back up and refreshed his efforts.
“We should hire this kid,” chuckled one of the team members.
Those visiting the park today may get to see William trying to tether the balloon yet again. Ms. Anderson told the News-Press that she and her family will likely return to the park for the wine festival.