Guy Gauthier was terrified. Being afraid of heights, he realized that taking a ride in a hot air balloon may not have been his best idea. He survived, but as he walked away, Guy declared, “I’ll never buy one of those things!”
He and his six brothers would pursue ground-level sports. However, after competing in motorcycle racing for a number of years, the siblings were looking for a new, less messy sport that they could participate in and still be clean enough to be welcome in restaurants or even in their homes. Several more refined pastimes were mentioned, such as hang gliding, sailing, speedboating, and yes, even ballooning.
That was on a Sunday evening. On Wednesday, Guy received a call from one of his brothers, telling him, “We just bought a balloon, and your part is $3000.”
It began with a love story. Tamie Folley and Mike Shrum met at a ballooning event in the Philippines. They shared a passion for ballooning, and about a year later, they began dating.
Fast forward to 2016 when they opened their business, Happily Ever After Balloon Company. Tamie was crewing for a friend in Albuquerque when he mentioned that he had an idea that may interest them. He had noticed the shirts Tamie and Mike’s crew wore when working their pink camouflage balloon; the shirts feature a heart with wings on it. The designer wanted to build a balloon in the shape of a heart, but not just an ordinary heart. This heart has personality!
The Plano Balloon Festival 5K is ranked as one of the Top 5K’s in Texas by Texas Runner and Triathlete as seen featured in their Winter 2019 issue. Their list includes 34 races within the Lone Star State to receive recognition. If you’re wondering how many there are in Texas each year, then you might want to note that Running In The USA had 1,068 5K races on their calendar for 2018. Only five of those are in the City of Plano.
“This race is worthy of being one of the top five 5K’s in Texas for several reasons and from varying perspectives. For some participants it is all about the bling and our finisher medals are bright, colorful, big and feature a hot air balloon for each year of the race, so in 2019 we will have nine balloons on them. For others it is about the festival atmosphere, there is so much to do and experience at the race plus it is very family friendly. For everyone it is about seeing hot air balloons launch above you as you are running/walking the course. These are just some of the things you can’t get at any other 5K in Texas.” – Eric Lindberg, Chief Running Officer of On Your Left! Marketing & Events.
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.
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?
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.