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BALLOONS OVER BLOOMFIELD

10th Annual San Juan River Balloon Rally

 

Debbie Israel

Ready for lift off!

Hot air balloons have been romanticized and fantasized about since 1783, when two French men untethered their balloon and it drifted through the skies.

Times – and ballooning – have changed since the 1700s, but the fascination about the sport continues to attract pilots, chase crews and spectators to any and every hot air balloon rally in the country.

Such was the case when the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce hosted its Tenth Annual San Juan River Balloon Rally June 14-16. Twenty pilots from throughout the area brought their colorful hot air balloons to Bloomfield to participate in the event.

"The pilots came from all walks of life," said Janet Mackey, president of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. "We had a senator from Utah, a retired pilot from Phoenix who participated in (the chamber's) first balloon rally, three female pilots and a retired FBI agent."

The balloon pilots enjoy coming to Bloomfield for the rally for many reasons. Nancy Aubol-Hanks has been flying her balloon – Giggles and Grins – for more than seven years.

"I love sharing my passion and my love of hot air ballooning with other people," Aubol-Hanks said recently. "And I love coming to Bloomfield. It is beautiful here and the people here are unbelievable. I have never flown anywhere, where the people are as welcoming and helpful as they are in Bloomfield."

The early morning balloon ascensions went off without a hitch, and with pilots and their lucky passengers enjoying the ride down the San Juan River.

"One balloon landed on the Bloomfield High School baseball field," Mackey said with a laugh. "We had glorious weather the entire weekend. It is great to get to meet and get to know the pilots, and to ride in a hot air balloon is an opportunity of a lifetime."

Bloomfield's Mayor, Scott Eckstein, welcomed the pilots at a banquet held in their honor, wearing a tie that had hot air balloons all over it.

"I really look forward to the balloon rally every year," Eckstein said. "It is unique to Bloomfield and it brings people from all over San Juan County to our city. I enjoy visiting with the pilots and crews, and hearing all the great things they have to say about the Bloomfield community."

"Seeing all the balloons floating over the San Juan River is stunning," Eckstein added. "And because our rally is smaller than most, people who come for the early morning lift-off have the opportunity to get up close to the balloons and visit with the pilots. Kids of every age love it."

Debbie Israel

BALLOONS SAILED OVER BLOOMFIELD DURING THE TENTH ANNUAL SAN JUAN RIVER BALLOON RALLY - THANKS TO STEVE GROMACK, CITY OF BLOOMFIELD FOR THE PLANE RIDE TO GET ALL THE GREAT PHOTOS!

Bloomfield City Councilman DeLaws Lindsay and his wife, Cheryl, had been hoping for a ride in one of the balloons for several years. They finally had that dream come true this year.

"The lift off and going from the ground up into the sky was beautiful," Lindsay said. "The view we had – seeing the city and the river from above and getting a different perspective of it is much like my perspective on life. Sometimes you just have to get a different view of life and what's going on around you."

The rally is held every year on Father's Day weekend and Janet Mackey encourages everyone to put the rally on their calendar for the entire family to enjoy. She also suggested sponsoring a balloon next year.

"When you're a sponsor, you get to ride in the balloon you're sponsoring," she said. "And I guarantee you'll walk away with memories of a lifetime."

 

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