“The Hot  Business of Balloon Love” written by Maridee Dietzel 


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!


According to Tamie, Te aMo, who is named after Tamie and Mike (the capital T is for Tamie, and the capital M is for Mike), is a bit stubborn—he handles and flies differently than their other five balloons. Te aMo’s eyes stand up above the rest of the heart, with his black eyebrows and casual smile showing his playful nature. Two white wings on his back also rise above the rest of the heart, and his hands join in the front with his fingers forming the shape of a heart.


Te aMo’s designer spent five months carefully constructing him in Sao Paulo, and his first flight was over beautiful Brazil. He weighs 418 pounds when he’s not inflated. When he is inflated, he measures 84 feet across from elbow to elbow, 77 feet tall, and 45 feet front to back. He can carry up to 350 pounds in passenger weight.



True to his namesake, Te aMo loves love stories. Many couples ask to propose in front of Te aMo and then have their pictures taken with him in the background. Te aMo even plans to make an appearance at a crew member’s wedding in the not-too-distant future!


Te aMo loves to fly, and so does his pilot. Tamie grew up in Albuquerque and enjoyed her first flight when she was 12. A decade and a half later, she crewed a balloon for a friend’s husband at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This time, the flight changed her life.



That “flight . . . was more spectacular than words can say!” Tamie enthused. Because of that flight, she chose to become a balloon pilot.


“Flying is my greatest passion,” says Tamie. “There’s no greater joy and peace.”



She is fortunate to balloon full-time, and during peak season, she flies as often as the weather allows, which can be four or more times each week. She’s had her share of challenging weather and rough landings—as says,


“All pilots have [those]; if they haven’t, they will at some point! I do my very best to check weather and make the safest choices every flight. I listen to my gut a lot; sometimes you don’t know why your intuition tells you what it does until later.”



Tamie and Te aMo are so popular that they’ve been able to fly together all over the world. However, her long jump flight competition (a flight in which pilots use a pre-determined amount of fuel and fly as far as possible) in Colorado with views of Pike’s Peak stands out as her most magnificent memory.


Tamie and Te aMo are hoping for good weather this year at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.



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.




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.



The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival has a launch field for the hot air balloons and the KLUV Main Stage for the entertainment! This year Downtown Fever, an Emerald City Band, will kick-off the opening of the gates on Friday, September 21, 2018 and take the stage at 4:15 p.m.  The crowds will make their way to field and see the RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition jump out of an airplane at 5:30 p.m., and Downtown Fever will light up the stage again for two more sets at 7:00 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.



On Saturday, September 22, 2018 we’ve got Texas based Good Question Band in concert on the KLUV Main Stage presented by T-Mobile starting at 4:00 p.m. They have three more igniting sets on stage at 7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. In between those sets we’re going to squeeze in the RE/MAX Parachute Team Exhibition, the Hot Air Balloon Glow, and a Spectacular Fireworks Show presented by Bimbo Bakeries USA at 9:00 p.m.  The festival closes for the evening at 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.



The schedule of events for Friday & Saturday is detailed below and the full schedule for Sunday is available online:


Friday, Sept. 21
4:00 PM – Festival Opens and Bus Service Begins
4:15 PM – Downtown Fever in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage
5:30 PM – RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition
6:00 PM – Balloon Activities presented by RE/MAX
7:00 PM – Downtown Fever in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage
8:00 PM – Balloon Glow – Balloon Glow
8:45 PM – Downtown Fever in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage
10:00 PM – Festival Closes
Saturday, Sept. 22
6:00 AM – Gates and Parking Lots Open | Bus Service Begins
7:00 AM – Balloon Activities presented by the City of Plano
7:30 AM – 5K Run / Walk
8:00 AM – Balloon Fly-In Competition
9:00 AM – 1K Run / Walk
9:30 AM – 5K Awards Ceremony
4:00 PM – Good Question Band in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage presented by T-Mobile
5:30 PM – RE/MAX of Texas Parachute Team Exhibition
6:00 PM – Balloon Activities presented by InTouch Credit Union
7:00 PM – Good Question Band in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage presented by T-Mobile
8:00 PM – Balloon Glow
8:30 PM – Good Question Band in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage presented by T-Mobile
9:00 PM – Spectacular Fireworks Show presented by Bimbo Bakeries USA
9:30 PM – Good Question Band in Concert on the KLUV Main Stage presented by T-Mobile
10:00 PM – Festival Closes


Have you registered for one of the Plano Balloon Festival Races? If not, you’ll want to sign-up soon before your spot is gone. If you have registered and live in the metroplex, you can pick-up race packets from the Plano Running Club at the Plano Event Center at 2000 E. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano. They will be in the Spring Glade room on the east side of the building at these times:

Thursday, Sept 20 – 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Friday, Sept 21 – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday, Sept 22 – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

“We try to participate in as many local events as possible,” says Plano Running Club member Shirley Barbaro. “Plano Balloon Festival is the biggest and most well-known event taking place in Plano each year. I cannot think of a better opportunity to serve our community than volunteering in some way.”



The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival began in 1980 in the City of Plano, and new for 2018 is a spacious location to set-up balloon operations headquarters.  More than 50 hot air balloon pilots and hundreds of crew members will be hosted by Celebration Event Center located at the Northwest corner of Custer Road and Park Blvd.


“The pilots and balloon crew members will be extremely excited and wowed by the amazing Celebration Event Center and Ballroom.  In the 39 years of Plano Balloon Festival pilot and crew functions, this facility is offering the very best place for their gatherings,” states Jo Via, Executive Director for the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.


The three-day festival weekend is September 21-23 and the majority of the 10,000 square ft facility, including the Large Ballroom, is to be used exclusively by pilots and crew. There are a few regularly scheduled classes that will continue in rooms located within the building such as Zumba, Martial Arts, and Bollywood Dance.



Camp Gladiator has partnered with the Plano Balloon Festival Races to help runners when they pick-up race packets on September 15 and 16 at Academy Sports and Outdoors at 4045 N. Central Expressway in Plano. Runners who are already registered for the Plano Balloon Festival Races can pick-up race packets from Camp Gladiator representatives between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm.


There is no race day registration or packet pick-up.  Additional packet dates are as follows:

Thursday, Sept 20 – 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Friday, Sept 21 – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday, Sept 22 – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Plano Event Center, Spring Glade Room, 2000 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, TX 75074


Camp Gladiators will work alongside the Plano Balloon Festival Races to promote health, fitness and being outdoors. Camp Gladiator is a four-week outdoor group fitness program. Each workout or “Camp” is a 60 minute, full-body workout incorporating both cardio and strength training.  The mission of Camp Gladiator is to positively impact the physical fitness and ultimately the lives of as many people as possible.

Camp Gladiator Members In Training Session in Plano, Texas
Camp Gladiator Members In Training Session in Plano, Texas

“Exercising outside has so many benefits to exercising inside. When you’re outside, your body is having to work with so many external elements – temperature, wind, dynamic surfaces, etc.,”says Camp Gladiator partner trainer Becky Leverett. “When you challenge your body with an unstable environment, your muscles and brain are constantly having to react and re-adjust which makes it hard for the body and brain to ever become complacent and bored.”

Runners and walkers of every fitness level will have the opportunity to connect with nature, get some fresh air, and see the soaring balloons festival weekend. The 1K fun run and 5k are on Saturday, September 22 and the 10k and Half Marathon run on Sunday, September 23. Registration is online only. Camp Gladiator trainers are prepared to lead the pre-run warm-ups both days, and be on site all weekend at the festival to connect with the Plano community and encourage active lifestyles.

CG Logo

“Our bodies are capable of so much more than we give it credit for,” says Leverett. “I challenge every person to step outside of their comfort zone and run that race or attend a camp.”


Camp Gladiator is the largest adult outdoor fitness program in the Nation and DFW Metroplex.  Those ready for more outdoor fitness opportunities can find more than 50 Plano-area Camp Gladiator programs at for all local camps or connect with Leverett via email with any questions.



General registration for the Plano Balloon Festival Races ends August 31 and online registration for the Challenges closes at Noon on Friday, September 21 and the Half Marathon and 10K race registration closes at Noon on Saturday, September 22.    The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival is a three day weekend starting September 21 and continuing until Sunday, September 23, 2018 at Oak Point Park in Plano, TX. Advance tickets are available online at or at participating InTouch Credit Union locations starting September 1.   #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon


Twenty local shutterbugs were randomly selected as winners of a Photographer Badge and VIP parking pass valid September 21-23, 2018 at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. The badge allows the photographer access to the festival and more importantly the ability to walk onto the launch field with their cameras to capture an up close view of the hot air balloons, crew, pilots, and the thousands of fans in attendance.


The Festival Preview & Photographer Badge Drawing was promoted on Facebook  and held on Friday, August 10, 2018 in the parking lot at Central Market located at 320 Coit Road in Plano, Texas.



Congratulations to the following winners of the drawing:  Warren Harris, Elizabeth Luse, Shelley D. Franklin, Joe Paul, Dennis Brickett, John Babis, Artist German, Randy Ratzlaff, Alan Daniel, Juan Samuel Barajas, Henry Pereyda, Bob Watkins, Meredith Joyce, John Lightle, Elizabeth Buchanan, Augustin Samson, Lisa Sutherlin, Sandra Young, Millie Hooper, and Kyle Bunch.


Photographers who were present at the time of the drawing received their packages and all other winners will receive their packages by regular mail. For more information please email: and thank you to everyone who submitted their photos for the drawing!



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.

Volunteers must sign-up in advance to crew for a shift and select a time slot.

Follow the conversation on the Facebook event page: