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.
Guest contributor: April Hamon aka @AprilOnTheRun
This is going to be my race recap for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon…it’s pretty long…
A little background:
I never had plans to do the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon until I saw a Facebook post on an old high school friend, Renee’s news feed. After our 2001 graduation, we parted ways and the last time I recall seeing her was in college back in 2005. We’ve kept contact here and there through social media over the passing years.
Renee posted that she had lost a tremendous amount of weight over the last year and had begun running and training. She wanted to be able to do her first half marathon. I’m inspired by people who are trying and wanting to stay healthy and be active. After seeing her post, I sent Renee a message asking when and what half she was planning to do. She wasn’t sure at the time, so I told her to let me know and I’d register and pace her if she wanted. She had decided on the PBF Half Marathon and I committed myself to this race with her, at her pace.
One Month til Race Day
Training, training, training is what should be done months leading up to race day. My training was and had been in full gear for months prior and I was going strong. I train with various run groups around South East Texas. After a 10 mile bridge training run with WCRunners, my friend Ana who is from Beaumont had said it was her longest run to date! Sweet! The first thought straight out of my mouth was “you’re ready for a half marathon!” Our friend, Tony threw out over coffee that she wanted to do a half before her 30th (Oct. 3). I sunk my race recruiting claws in deep and told her she should do the PBF with me and my friend on the 20th, exactly 4 weeks out. Hesitant at first about not really having trained for a half (she did just run her first 10 miler) and she would only have one more 10 mike training run before Plano, but she registered just two days later. Peer pressure at it’s finest!
Ana carpooled with me and we stayed at my in-laws in Athens the night before, which is about an hour and a half from Plano. We left Athens around 4 a.m. so we’d have plenty of time to get there and not feel rushed. Getting to a race super early is way better then getting there late and having to fight to find a parking space and find your way to where you’re supposed to be before the start of the race, plus we had to meet Renee at Starbucks for our packets since she picked them up for us the day before – no race day packet pick up.
We arrived at the runner’s parking by 6 a.m. meeting back up with Renee, as well as two ladies Jordyn and Lea Ann who came with her to do the race. We now I have four first time half marathoners rather than just one! Wowzers!!!!
As we made our way down a hill to the start, there were several people from my run group running the race. It’s always good to see familiar faces at the races. We discussed goal finish times. This was mine and Ana’s first year to run the PBF Half, so Jordyn and Ana had paired up as partners. Jordyn was aiming for a sub 2:05 and Ana a sub 2:30. They started with the 2:30 pace group while Renee, Lea Ann and I joined the 3:30 pace group. Their goal was to finish in 3:30.
The race started at 7:30 a.m. sharp and was really smooth getting out from the start. All the runners were courteous and didn’t try to trample over you like at some races.
And We’re Off…Mile 1-3
The weather was decent, not horrible but humid with NO cloud coverage! Renee, Lea Ann and I did run/walk intervals (1:1). We were able to see the hot air balloons for about the first three miles.
The course was a mixture of hills and neighborhoods with a few shaded parks. By now, Lea Ann had gotten well ahead of Renee and I. The hills and heat were taking a toll on Renee and she wasn’t happy. With every passing mile it was; “I’m done, I quit, or I’m finished!” I actually expected it and not because I thought she wouldn’t finish but because I said the same things when I did my first half marathon. I just didn’t have anyone to yell at. She needed the push and encouragement to keep going.
It’s about 2 hours into the course at mile 8 and the heat was still taking a toll on Renee. We still had 5.1 to go and we had just gotten on the Santa Fe Trail. She fueled and hydrated but started cramping and was hot. Still saying “I can’t, I’m finished” as we continued on to mile 11. I was dead set on not letting her quit! Quitting was not an option so if we had to walk the entire last half then that’s what we were going to do. The Santa Fe Trail we were on was wide open to NO shade and NO breeze. As we crossed over a small bridge on the trail, Renee once again, “I’m done, I’m tapped out!” as she leaned over the bridge rail for a little breather.
As I’ve done since 1.5 miles, I kept telling her she couldn’t just up and quit. “Look how far you’ve come! You’re going to finish!” As we started back to walking the Plano Volunteer PD guys came from behind us checking on everyone who was still on course. I’d asked for an ice pack and cold bottled water for Renee hoping it’d help.
It’s 10:52 a.m. with about a mile to go and 8 minutes til the cutoff. I text Jordyn to let her know where we were on course and to update her on Renee. “We’re at 12.25 miles and she’s quit on me ten times lol”. That was my text and she started walking towards us from the finish line.
Turning left onto E. Spring Creek Pkwy and the finish line is in sight. It’s 400 yards to the finish line! As we got closer, I asked Renee if she was going to have a walking or running photo finish. She wanted to run it in together, crossing together.
We finished in 3:48, just 18 minutes late of the cutoff but our times were included in the official results. Renee gave me EVERY opportunity from the start to leave her and run my own race. There was no way I was going to leave her and her not finish. I really feel that if I had left her, she would have quit and she would have missed crossing a huge milestone over that finish line.
Although we didn’t finish by the 3:30 cutoff which was our goal, she finished and she finished proud! PBF was not my race, it was Renee’s and I’m ever so grateful that I was able to be a part of it. To be a part of four friends doing their first half is priceless and if I had to do it all over again even with the rants…I would!
Lea Ann 3:21:15
It’s not about a finish time. It’s about finishing! Congrats to Jordyn, Ana, Lea Ann and Renee on completion of your first Half Marathon! You ladies are ROCKSTARS!!!
More information about the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon being held September 23-24, 2017 is available at www.pbfraces.org #PBFRaces
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. #PlanoBalloon #InTouchCreditU
By guest contributor: Christina Kennedy
Moving Colors is a native Dallas dance band known for having fun on stage. Members include Bill Brooks, Tim Harris, Landon Torbett, Joey Salvia, Trey Chamberlain, Chris Davis, Adrian Lea Jarvis, Rachel Pride, Alex Martin and Darren Fair. This highly adaptable band plays songs spanning generations, from oldies and classics to today’s top hits. They move seamlessly from your Jackson 5 favorites to today’s chart-topping musicians such as Beyoncé, Maroon 5 and Lady Gaga.
When it comes to performing again at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, Bill Brooks, lead guitarist and vocalist for Moving Colors said, “We’re excited, flattered and honored to be asked back. That’s a big deal for any band to perform in front of that many people and then to be asked back, it’s a huge compliment.”
Moving Colors has also played at venues such as the Arboretum, Six Flags, Lone Star Park and at top clubs in the area. They are more than just performing and want to leave their guests entertained, “It’s not about how the band sounds, it’s about the visual.” Between creating unique artwork live on stage, to performing their inventive bucket percussion routines, similar to Stomp! but much cooler, Moving Colors, “try to be as entertaining as we can and not just show up there and play music.” The band wants to make sure, whether at a public festival or private event, you always leave having watched a phenomenal stage show, not just a concert.
With upbeat music meant to excite the audience and get everyone moving on the dance floor, expectations for Moving Colors at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival are set high with no doubt they will be blown away. They are a band suitable for all ages, generations and music fans and Moving Colors has three scheduled performances on Saturday, September 23, 2017 starting at 7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. on the 98.7 KLUV Main Stage presented by Verizon.
The full #PlanoBalloon entertainment line-up is detailed: http://www.planoballoonfest.org/events/entertainment.
Find out more about Moving Colors: http://movingcolorsband.com/
Wishing you a happy & safe 4th of July!
4th of July holiday offer – *$5.00 Off Adults.
“Get Me Over The Finish Line” is a race recap by guest contributor: Donny Ray
The 2016 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon was my second time to run this race and the 5k. It was actually my very first 5k in 2013 and my very first half marathon in 2014. As always, it’s a well-organized event with great swag and with a fun course with the highlight to be able to see the balloons fly overhead (weather permitting). The race is in mid-September, which gives a slight break on the Texas heat, but can warm up towards the end of the race.
Here is a recap of my 2016 half marathon experience. I trained last summer for the Chicago Marathon and this race was the perfect distance and race to do prior to Chicago so I could taper before that race. I arrived to the event early to be well prepared and not rushed. As always, there is plenty of parking and volunteers to get you where you need to go. There are many port-a-potties in the area and lots of room in the start line area.
Prior to the start, the balloons are being lit up on the field and it is definitely something different that a lot of races do not offer. It was very windy that day, so no launch was made due to safety reasons. The start began without any issues and lots of excitement in the air.
The first few miles were through the countryside and well condensed with runners. There was always elbow room even at the start of the race. There are some rolling hills for the first several miles, but none that are crazy. This is a good race for the beginner or the expert. I saw several friends throughout the first few miles, which is always a nice sight to see. The course has multiple water stations, hydration stops, and support for the participants from start to finish.
About half way the half marathon course becomes smaller, but runners have spread out by then and well on their set pace. I was able to keep a comfortable pace without any crowding throughout the entire race. I see the relay participants handing off for the 2nd half at mile 13.1 just when I’m setting into my pace. Around this time I start seeing clouds in the sky and just hope that they keep us dry in time to finish. Around mile 8, it starts to drop rain very slightly. It wasn’t bad at all and actually felt nice. Again, I was wishing the weather would stay good for us. At mile 10 it starts raining harder and I realize that it isn’t going to let up. Immediately after 11 miles it starts to downpour and gets interesting. No one can control mother nature.
At one point I had a mental thought that I was in the “hunger games.” It was a thought that I needed to get me over the finish line. I remember turning left on the final stretch and the rain was pouring so hard and water was up to my ankles. I’ll never forget that feeling at the finish line and the sense of accomplishment that came from finishing. There was a volunteer out in the pouring rain making sure everyone that crossed received their well-deserved medal. I see in the distance a group of my friends under a tent yelling my name. It was an awesome feeling.
The 5k participants received a t-shirt and half marathon participants received a tank. Both are great quality and I wear them around constantly. The medals are awesome. Each year, they add an additional balloon to the medal to commemorate their anniversary. The finisher medals have never disappointed.
Personally, the real race of a half marathon begins anywhere from mile 8 to 10 all the way to the finish. This is when you have to really dig deep and what makes running so fun. This race did have a lot of rain, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it if I could. That’s what makes running great. Snow, rain or sunshine!
The Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon and 5K are two fantastic races. I’m happy to give my personal review and help spread the word. www.pbfraces.org #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon
Guest contributor: Christina Kennedy
Limelight is ready to entertain the audience with their high-energy approach and eclectic style at the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival on the KLUVMain Stage presented by Direct Energy. Established in 2009, Limelight took the 25-year experience and reputation of Emerald City Band and created a new ensemble with its very own unique style and personality.
Easily making music and dancing their top priority for all their audience members, Limelight is guaranteed to make any event unforgettable. While being the life of the party and bringing the crowd to their feet, Limelight is exceptionally eager to officially make their #PlanoBalloon debut.
“This festival is well known across the country and we feel honored to be part of such a great tradition. We live in Plano and always look forward to that special weekend when the sky is filled with huge, colored balloons. We have a deep connection with the community, starting over 25 years ago, we’ve had the privilege to call Plano and the surrounding cities our home.” – Limelight
4:00 – 5:30 PM
7:00 – 8:00 PM
8:45 – 10:00 PM
Limelight is a festivity all their own. Comprised of a professional 11-piece band, their musical expertise spans decades. From classical to current hits and all your party staples, they want to make sure to give everyone something to sing about. Limelight does everything they can to take their shows to the next level so the audience is sharing their spot in the limelight.
Check out www.limelightband.com for more info about upcoming shows and follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival will be held September 22-24, 2017 at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas. www.planoballoonfest.org #PlanoBalloon
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.
This iconic white bear made its debut in July at the 34th annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning and will be a magical site to see September 23-25 at the 2016 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. www.planoballoonfest.org
Just look at the cute Bimbo® Bear’s face and say “Beembo.”™ It’s been pronounced this way in countries all over the world for over 65 years. – Bimbo Bakeries USA