Not just hot air: Camp promotes inaugural hot air balloon festival

Children participating in the Kyle Summer Youth Camp were treated to a hands-on preview of the city’s first hot-air balloon event set for the Labor Day weekend.

“We want to show them (the kids) how cool it is and give them an opportunity to see what’s going on inside the balloon,” said Sarah Watson, Pie in the Sky event planner. “If there’s any way to merge the two, we’re going to do it. Event participation is one of our main goals.”

(photo by Timothy Stuckey)

The camp, which was held last Wednesday, gave campers a chance to ask pilots questions and interact with a hot-air balloon that was set up in the Wallace Middle School gymnasium.

“Outreach is a big part of promoting the event,” Watson said. “Pilots love interacting with the community.”

The pilots, Susan Garrison and Josh Sneed, combined their decades of piloting experience to engage the children with the science behind piloting hot air balloons and even allowed the children to sit inside a partially inflated balloon while explaining its functions.

Garrison, who’s been piloting hot air balloons since 1984, said her love of piloting them began almost a decade before.

“I was visiting a friend in the 70s when they took me for a ride,” said Garrison. “ I instantly fell in love with it; the silence, camaraderie.”

The camp event was an effort to promote Kyle’s first hot air balloon festival, set Sept. 1 and Sept. 2. Attendees can expect food competitions, prizes and a Guinness World Record competition.

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