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.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about hot air balloons? We are recruiting folks to help crew for pilots for the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival the weekend of September 21-23, 2018. Volunteers will learn to help with setting up, inflating, launching, and packing up the hot air balloons after a flight during regularly scheduled balloon activities at the festival. There are two flights a day and the morning crew meets at 6:00 a.m. and finishes around 10:00 a.m. The evening crew begins at 4:00 p.m. and finish by 8:00 p.m. Breakfast is provided for the morning shift and dinner is provided after the evening shift.
Hands-on training is scheduled for 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas. In the event of rain, the training session will take place on the following day, September 16 at the same location.
My wife and I lost a close friend to a brain tumor in July of this year, and committed to run one half marathon a month over the next 12 months to raise funds for Marie Curie, a UK charity that provides care and support for people living with any terminal illness. More details can be found at www.justgiving.com/12halfmarathons. We are also substituting one of the half marathons for the 2018 London Marathon, the biggest in the world. So far, with the help of friends and business associates, Alisa and I have raised around £5554.50 for the charity, but with 10 more runs to go we are hopeful to raise more. Continue reading “TEAM MARIE CURIE FINISH THE PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL HALF MARATHON”
It’s August and the temperature is rising above triple digits here in the Lone Star State. In the “Land of Enhatchment” the heat is cranked up even more in celebration of 22 years as the “hatchiest place on Earth” at Central Market. Last Thursday local pilot Scott Vesely inflated and tethered the InTouch Credit Union hot air balloon in the parking lot at the Central Market location at 320 Coit Road in Plano.
Hello, my name is Steve Laswell and I am the Volunteer Crew Coordinator for the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. I would like to share with you and your group of some volunteer opportunities for the Plano Balloon Festival. We are recruiting folks to help crew for a Hot Air Balloon Pilot for our Festival on September 22, 23, and 24, 2017.
In June 2017, Jo Via, Executive Director and Jessica Jackson, Event Director, together presented a commemorative photograph to the InTouch Credit Union to hang in their main office located at Democracy and Parkwood in Plano, Texas. The canvas mounted photo was taken by Janelle Twyford-Silvis, owner of AlleeOops Photography and member of the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. Board of Directors.
ITCU recently established themselves as the longest running Title Sponsor of the Plano Balloon Festival held in the City of Plano noted as the Official Hot Air Balloon Capital of Texas. The partnership began in 2006 and both ITCU and the Festival have similar philosophies regarding community involvement and providing opportunities for local non-profits to raise funds and create awareness about their organizations and programs.
“It is the Festival’s commitment to local non-profits that attracted ITCU to our organization. The Festival’s partnership with over 55 local agencies is a fundamental component of the event and melds well with ITCU’s overall philosophy within their own organization,” explains Jo Via, Executive Director of Plano Balloon Festival, Inc.
ITCU has also donated more than $10,000 to 19 local non-profits including organizations such as My Possibilities, Meals on Wheels, Heritage Farmstead Museum, and Samaritan Inn. “Their commitment to the community reaches beyond the Festival and the non-profits they honor at our event,” says Via.
Now celebrating more than 10 years, the current agreement generously secures the title rights through 2019. “We have the type of Title Sponsor Partnership that is the very best. They are exceptionally loyal and offer outstanding resources, to make the festival successful every year. We are truly blessed to have the InTouch Credit Union, and their entire team, as our remarkable Title Sponsor,” states Via.
In 2010, the ITCU truly exemplified the Festival mission by learning about ballooning so that a hot air balloon could represent their company on the field. Local pilot Scott Vesley will fly the vibrantly colorful ICTU hot air balloon again this year, as he did in 2016.
This year the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival will be held September 22-24, 2017 at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas. ITCU graciously provides on-site Automated Teller Machines during the Festival weekend and a fun ITCU mascot “Chip” for kids to enjoy. They’ll also have a booth staffed by employees to answer questions about their services and offering fun games for giveaways during regular festival hours. More information about ITCU may be found www.itcu.org and Festival details are available at www.planoballoonfest.org.
Contact Jo Via for Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. media related questions: email@example.com. #PlanoBalloon #InTouchCreditU
This month we celebrate Mom with a special gift of 14% off runner registration fees for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, Relay, Sky-High Challenge, 5k and 1k. Simply use the discount code RUNNINGMOMS between May 8-15, 2017 to receive instant savings off the general registration fee.
Saturday, September 23, 2017 is the 5k and 1k starting at 7:30 a.m. and Sunday, September 24, 2017 is the Half Marathon and Relay beginning at 7:00 a.m.
HALF MARATHON $ 85.00 – General Registration -> $73.10
HALF MARATHON RELAY
$130.00 – General Registration -> $111.80
Interested in running both days? Register for both race distances – Half Marathon and 5K. Includes a Bonus Medal!
The Petrehn family name has been, for many decades, connected with ballooning and John Petrehn recalls, “My first flight in a hot air balloon was when I was just a couple of years old and could not event see over the side of the basket. My father was the pilot.”
John became an FAA licensed balloon pilot at the age of only 16 and is currently the #4 ranked pilot in the world. “Ballooning is my full time job, profession, career, hobby, and obsession,” explains the owner of Magniflight hot air balloon company based in Houston.
Among his more than 50 awards, John won the 2006 World Hot Air Balloon Championship held in Tochigi, Japan and again in 2010. The 19th FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship took place in Debrecen, Hungary and John was among top competitors from five continents and 33 countries.
Although John and his highly experienced chase crew typically log 100 flights a year, this will be their first time launching Bimbo® bear here in Plano, the Hot Air Balloon Capital of Texas. “It is a magical feeling when you lift off, especially in the beautiful Bimbo® bear balloon. The crowd loves the special shape and always send us off with a loud cheer,” states the pilot.
Bimbo® bear is a brand new special shape hot air balloon, representing the Bimbo Bakeries USA company and Bimbo® brand sweet baked goods, which
is headquartered in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Standing 105 feet tall, the Bimbo® bear is 78 feet wide and weighs nearly 600 pounds.
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.