In the glow: Balloons light up Miss-Lou skies, faces
Published 12:57 am Saturday, October 18, 2014
NATCHEZ — The sky shined with a radiant glow Friday night as hundreds gathered to kick off the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.
T.J. Baggett and Laurie Belshan were able to experience the balloon glow for the first time together, and would not have had it any other way.
Baggett and Belshan are from Savannah, Ga., but have been in Natchez for two months.
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“Natchez has the capability to create those memorable experience for all tourists, not just the locals,” Baggett said.
Belshan is an artist who has received great inspiration from the balloon race, painting several pictures for the Natchez Art Association and Rolling River Bistro.
“It’s beautiful.” Belshan said. “It’s an amazing event and I find it visually stimulating.”
Baggett said she thinks Natchez has a lot to offer.
“There is more here than just the history,” Baggett said. “So when the community gathers like this it brings in tourists who are willing to travel miles for the race.”
Baggett and Belshan think the balloon glow is memorable event not only for them, but also for Natchez and the Miss-Lou.
“It stimulates the local economy,” Baggett said. “It’s just an example of the multiple things that we can do here locally to bring tourists here.”
Natchez resident Meg Freeman has enjoyed the balloon glow for years, and has even had her experience helping balloon pilots in previous races.
“It’s great to see a crowd of this size for the area,” Freeman said. “I would hate to see this event not continue.”
Previously, Freeman has crewed with Longview, Texas, pilot Richard Sabin — who has been a balloon pilot for 14 years.
“The glow is great,” Sabin said. “To see the smiles on everybody’s face makes it so nice.”
Sabin said seeing the balloon glow builds interest for participating pilots as thet head into the race.
“This event is where you kind of get up close and personal with everybody and gets the pilots ready for what’s to come.
Cassandra Poole experienced her first balloon glow at the age of 41.
Poole was getting off from work in Alexandria, La., when she received a call from local friends, inviting her to the balloon glow.
“I love it, it’s just amazing to say this is my first time,” Poole said. “The food is spectacular and reminds me of the small places in New Orleans.”
Poole sent videos to her husband Gary Poole, who is currently in Saudi Arabia.
“Myself and my husband never got the chance to come because we were always working,” Poole said.
The balloon race has the capability of gathering individuals from all over.
Logan Cates, a Kentucky resident, flew his airplane to the Miss-Lou, just to experience the balloon race.
“I had some friends who lived in Jonesville,” Cates said. “So I jumped in my plane, and flew to Natchez for the occasion.”
Cates said it was the experience of a lifetime.
“The music, the balloons, the lights, the people — there is nothing like Louisiana and Mississippi folks.”