Balloon Classic decorates the sky
[Times photo: Mike Pease 2000]
Youll see more than clouds in the skies this weekend as the TECO Energy Brandon Balloon Classic gets off the ground.
By LEA IADAROLA
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
BRANDON -- In 1783, the French Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne, launched one of the first hot air balloons. Its passengers: a duck, rooster and sheep.
The response from the audience, which included King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, was awe.
Hot air balloons still have the same impact.
The Brandon Balloon Classic, now in its 19th year, combines entertainment, sport and fun with lots of awe.
Today from 7 to 9 p.m., as a preview, 19 balloons set to appear in the classic will be inflated at the Brandon TownCenter Mall for a balloon glow. There also will be live music, face painting, a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree and a certificate for a balloon ride.
Then on Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. the classic officially will be launched at the Vandenberg Airport in Brandon. The balloon glow is at 7.
"The balloon glow is a very spectacular event," said Laura Simpson, vice president of business and community development for the Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
The classic will continue on Saturday with balloon launches, races and target contests beginning at 7 a.m. Activities end at 7 p.m. with another balloon glow.
More balloon launches, races and target contests will take place again beginning at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The festivities will end at 6 p.m. This year, 60 balloons will be featured, including the debut of the Sony Wega.
Returning balloons include the Post Sugar Bear, Ben and Jerry's ice cream cone, Oggy the Dragon, and the Burger King Whopper.
In addition to the balloons, there will be food, entertainment, amusement rides, games and on-ground exhibits, including different kinds of aircraft on display.
A new feature on Saturday afternoon is a crime prevention expo, complete with fingerprinting for children.
Admission to the classic is free. Parking is $3, part of which will be donated to the MacDill education endowment. The fund assists the personnel at MacDill Air Force Base with continuing education programs.
TECO Energy Brandon Balloon Classic: Balloon glow 7-9 p.m. today at the Brandon TownCenter Mall, classic 6-10 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m Saturday; 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at Vandenberg Airport, U.S. Highway 301. Free admission. $3 parking.
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