On this day, September 19th we wish a happy anniversary to Chris and Heather Ward who graciously shared their story in this letter:
Dear Plano Balloon Festival,
It was September 19th, 2008; and my boyfriend Chris and I were driving to this hot air balloon festival that I had never been to before. He was a ham radio operator, so he had assisted in past years with the balloon recovery and retrieval chase crews. We got stuck in traffic and his normally very calm personality was no where in site. Chris was getting agitated like we were on some time schedule. He told me he had arranged for a photographer to meet us there and take some “couple pictures” of us. He said I should get my hair and nails done, and wear black and white because the balloons are so colorful.
So, we met Chris Vouras of Dallas Digital Events. He explained that he had a videographer that was new and training for events of all kinds, so I would see him with a camera here and there. My Chris’ best friend, his wife and their son was there taking in all the sites as well.
We got to our pictures. Then my Chris up and disappeared! We could not find him for what felt like an eternity. I was just chatting with the photographer and Chris’ best friend and finally he appeared and said we were going on the balloon field. I am an avid rule follower, so I did not like this plan. I should add, I had just had surgery on my leg that month before and was able to walk some but was in a wheelchair the majority of the time. So, he pushed me across the field to this beautiful balloon, which we now know is called the Chameleon II owned by David and Mary Ann Hawkins.
The photographer turned my chair and said he wanted to get some pictures of just me for a moment because the lighting was beautiful. Balloons were inflating all around us, as they were preparing for the evening “Glow.” All the sudden, my Chris appeared and asked me if I could stand for a moment because he had something he wanted to talk to me about. He had a stuffed turtle in his hand, dressed in a tuxedo. He started saying a lot of wonderful things, I was crying, and then he asked….”Would you be my wife?”
He opened the ring box, I gasped and said YES! Then he said the sneakiest part of all, “And you know what, all of this was caught on tape for us to have!” Stinker! He had arranged all of this, and I was blown away! The balloons went up all around us, we took photos on the field as the balloon glow was happening and I just kept staring at my ring in awe. Chris had it custom made for me to include sapphires, my birthstone, and the month he proposed.
We parted ways with the professional photographer and videographer, and took in the rest of the evening. We bought shirts to help us always remember the 2008 Plano Balloon Festival (like we could forget), he bought a pin and we had junk food. It was awesome. I even saw a lightening bug for the first time that evening!
I created a photo book of our engagement story so we wouldn’t forget anything over the years and our video was given to us when we got our wedding video back. Our engagement video is now on YouTube.
Flash forward now, 8 years later. We got married on 07/08/09 and have been married for 7 years. We have two beautiful children who are the lights of our world. Our 4 year old daughter tells everyone she can that she can’t understand why her mommy and daddy did not invite her to their wedding. LOL! We have an almost 2 year old son, as well.
We plan to come back to the 2016 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival so our children can experience this magical place; and for the Hawkins’ of the Chameleon II to meet our kiddos. Thank you for all the planning and preparations you all do to put the festival together every year. You never know when your efforts will change someone’s life and that night in 2008, mine changed.
Fondly, Mrs. Heather Ward