Oh how they glow

Published 11:19 pm Friday, October 19, 2007

NATCHEZ — With necks craned toward the evening sky, tourists and locals alike stood side by side in awe of an array of shapes, sizes and colors for Friday’s balloon glow.

The balloon glow is, more than anything, an opportunity for well-grounded people — those without hot-air balloon access — to get up close and personal with the pilots and their crews.

Balloon Race – Day One

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And the well-grounded people love it.

Ryan Raaum and his wife Karen Baab drove 10 hours from Gainesville, Fla., just to see the balloon races.

Raaum said he did not know what to expect at the balloon races but looked pleasantly surprised.

“It’s impressive,” he said.

As crew members went about their assigned tasks spectators looked on with a certain happiness that only comes from watching others do manual labor.

Pilot Dan Martindale has participated in the balloon race for 15 years.

“This is my least favorite thing to do,” he said.

Martindale said the glow is torture for ballooners because no one gets to actually take off.

But fortunately, not everyone shared Martindale’s perspective.

Crewmember Mary Gideon said the balloon glow is an excellent opportunity for everyone to take part in the race.

“It’s good for the families and it’s good for the economy,” Gideon said.

And from the looks of Friday’s crowd the balloons will be good for the local economy.

Folsom resident Terri Conary said the closest hotel she could find for the event was in Brookhaven.

Even though Conary said she probably waited too long to book a hotel, she didn’t seem to care.

“This is awesome. To stand by these balloons is great, this is what makes it real,” she said.

The balloon glow offered some very unique perspectives to crowds of novices.

The heat from the huge propane burners can be felt from several feet away. And spectators got an up-close view of how big the balloons actually are. Gideon’s balloon, Sky Eyes, encompasses 69,000 cubic feet.

And though facts and figures about hot-air balloons are appealing to some, others simply don’t care about that kind of stuff.

Five-year-old Eboni Trevillion just likes to look at the balloons.

“I like it when they glow up,” she shouted.