Pilot Josh Goll and “Star Stepper” are among the 50 hot air balloons and pilots that came to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. Even though they loaded up and made the trip with his family, the Festival was cancelled due to flooding. We’d like to show you his beautiful balloon and share his story.
Let’s reflect back to to 2017 and his first time on the Festival field as a pilot. It is quiet on a Sunday morning. The air is still, and the only sound is the intermittent hiss of a propane burner. The number 16 balloon, Star Stepper, glides southwest over the launch field toward a target spray painted on the grass. The pilot, Josh Goll, gets within feet of the giant red X marking the spot. He tosses a bean bag at the target, and the watching crowd break the silence to cheer his win. Goll expertly piloted his balloon so close to the target at the Festival Fly-In Competition that a spectator might forget the breeze is in control of its direction.
Throughout the 39 years of producing this annual tradition within North Texas, the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. has never experienced such a devastating loss. The Festival is not a large corporate entity, but rather a 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by 13 Board of Directors. The sadness, and significant economic loss, is shared with the 58 local non-profits, 75 vendors, dozens of sponsors, pilots, crew, and more than 5,000 volunteers who were committed to the event.
The Festival mission is to produce a family-oriented ballooning event to benefit the community. The objective is to also offer other non-profits an opportunity to assist with the operations of the Festival and raise funds. These agencies work the gates, parking lots, kids fun zone and the races. For their services these non-profits are compensated a portion of the revenue. However, this year they earned no money to apply towards their impactful programs within the community.
In the 39 years of producing the beloved Plano Balloon Festival, we have steadfastly measured success on two fronts – the number of people we are able to wow with the beauty of hot air balloons, and the dollars raised by the non-profits who rely on the success of the festival to meet their annual fundraising goals. Sadly, mother nature took it upon herself to intervene, and 2018 will not go down as a banner year on either front.
A three-day outdoor festival in Texas is a wildly ambitious endeavor, but we are not deterred. Our mission is to provide nonprofit agencies an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for their programs and services, which ultimately enhances the quality of life for all North Texans. The Festival has circulated more than 3 million dollars back into the Collin County and Plano community. Supporters and friends of the Festival, people like you, choose to give through corporate sponsorship, ticket purchase or race participation so we can hold true to our mission year-after-year.
The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival & Races include more than 3,000 volunteers that serve in various roles taking tickets, driving shuttles, crewing for pilots, and more. For the fourth year in a row the Craig Ranch Running Club has stepped up to go the distance in a capacity that includes 13.1 miles. This trained group of runners, led by Captain Rick Johnson, will provide on-site support as the Pace Team for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon participants.
If you’ve never run a half marathon then you probably don’t understand why other runners would need volunteers to actually run alongside you. However, there are thousands who started with a 1k and eventually find themselves at the starting line of a half marathon. They likely trained with a group and will be prepared for the challenge. But, maybe they have a personal goal in mind. Continue reading “CRAIG RANCH RUNNING CLUB LEADS HALF MARATHON PACE TEAM”
The RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team is scheduled for daily exhibitions that involve jumping out of an airplane, gliding down to the field, and landing in front of thousands of cheering fans. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. you’ll want to make your way to the field for this adventurous experience at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival being held September 21-23, 2018 at Oak Point Park.
This attraction is included with admission into the three-day weekend that also includes a fireworks show, two nights of concerts on the KLUV Main Stage and more than 50 hot air balloons! The full schedule detailing all the activities may be found here on the website. The gates open at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21, kids 36″ and under receive free entry and general Tickets are $10 per person or $20 for the weekend pass.
Watch this beautiful video of the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team posted on our YouTube channel! #PlanoBalloon
Good news! The 10K race for 2018 is officially sold out with a maximum registration of 750 runners. Even better news is that the finish line for the 10K ends back at the festival. The course originally had a route that started at the festival, north on Jupiter Road, southeast on Los Rios Blvd, and then a zig zag of more than 10 streets, to finish at Bob Woodruff Park and wait to be shuttled back to the festival.
“We are fortunate to discover a new section of trail that allows the 10K finish at the festival with the half marathon runners. The benefit is the 10K participants finish directly at the festival and don’t have to ride shuttles. They’ll have immediate access to the food, entertainment, and a chance to see the folks who came to cheer when they cross the finish line,” says Eric Lindberg, Chief Running Officer with On Your Left! Marketing & Events.
We’ve given away tickets and parking passes over the years. In fact, there have been a lot of giveaways of t-shirts, posters, and festival items. This contest is for a private ride in a hot air balloon with a pilot here in Plano the week of the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival at Oak Point Park. We’re not talking about a tethered ride where you hover above the ground and descend within minutes. It’s a bucket list experience to lift-off and fly in a majestic invention that doesn’t have a steering wheel, motor or wheels. A truly unforgettable adventure that ends with a champagne toast and a prayer.
THE BALLOONIST’S PRAYER
“May the winds welcome you with softness. May the sun bless you with its warm hands. May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter And sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
The contest began last month and ends on Monday, September 17 at 8:00 p.m. CST. The date of the flight will be determined by the pilot but scheduled to take place between September 19-23 depending of course, on the weather. Must be 18 years or older to enter the Hootsuite based campaign that will randomly select the winner to be contacted and announced on Facebook and social media channels. The terms and conditions are detailed within the contest form. Are you ready to take flight?
In 1998, a hot air balloon came to rest on a quiet street in Murphy, TX. Trevor Laswell was only seven years old and this captured his attention. He expressed his interest in wanting to get involved with ballooning to the pilot, who referred him to crew training at the Plano balloon festival. That same year, Laswell took his first ride in a balloon with Suzanne and Don Smith in their balloon Hours Stars. Laswell’s father, Steve Laswell, was the festival’s volunteer coordinator at the time helped get the young Laswell involved.
InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival was named the Best Event/Festival in the Past Year in Plano by Plano Magazine for 2018. The magazine collected 97,697 votes to get the Best of Plano Magazine 2018 winners in several categories. Plano Magazine staff and contributors nominate events, business and services for the Best Of Awards, which are then voted on by people in the community. See the complete list of winners here. Voters also chose InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival as in the Best Event/Festival in Plano in 2017 after 239,570 votes were cast.
The airborne balloons and fireworks make InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival the most visible event in town, and one of the most exciting. But the hot air balloons aren’t the only draw. On September 21-23, 2018, festival weekend also includes the Kids Korner in the Central Market Kids Fun Zone, RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition, live entertainment on two stages, fireworks show, delicious festival food, and the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and 1K. Registration for all races is available online only. The festival opens at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21. Find the full schedule of events here.
General runner registration for the Plano Balloon Festival Races officially ended on August 31, 2018 but this is the last discount offer and it is available this weekend only. Runners can save $5.00 on the Half Marathon, 10K, Sky High Challenge, Elevate Challenge, 5K, and 1K distances with code PBFLABORDAY starting September 1 thru September 3, 2018.
Commemorative finisher medals have been designed for each race and they feature eight colorful hot air balloons to mark the annual race held at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival at Oak Point Park. New this year, runners can also choose to have their finisher medals personalized on-site by “Engrave My Medal.”
Go the distance September 22-23, 2018 at the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, Sky High Challenge, Elevate Challenge, 10K, 5K, and 1K races to receive dazzling commemorative finisher medals featuring eight hot air balloons! Registered runners also receive two tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival plus parking on race day. #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon www.pbfraces.org | The Sky High Challenge includes the 5K on 9/22 and the Half Marathon on 9/23. The Elevate Challenge includes the 5K on 9/22 and the 10K on 9/23. Challenge races include a third bonus finish medal and we hope to you at the starting line!
The Plano Balloon Festival Races continues to welcome thousands of runners to the starting line and therefore all registration must be done online in advance. Registration is not available in-person at packet pick-up or on-site prior to the races. All runners must register online: www.pbfraces.org Groups of 10 or more adults are eligible for a discount and should contact email@example.com for registration information.