Holiday Balloon Fest - Battle Creek, MI - 12/5 - 12/7/03

This weekend I found myself in Battle Creek, MI for the Holiday Balloon fest! This is the fifth year this event has been in existence, and it is a fun diversion in the middle of the essentially "dead" winter ballooning season. The hot air balloons launched from the mid-sized parking lot at Kellogg's Cereal City USA, a tourist destination right in the heart of downtown Battle Creek.

This year two fantastic morning competition flights were able to be flown, and some of the braver pilots also flew Saturday afternoon although it was too windy to call the competition tasks. New Jersey pilot (and my chauffeur for the weekend :) Keith Sproul took second place overall out of a field of 65 balloons by scoring on all tasks both flights. Not bad!

On Friday night, there was a burner glow in the parking lot with 65 pilots in their respective baskets, spewing flames every which way. It's quite impressive if you've never been to one of these glows. If it were a tad bit less windy, we'd have seen a full-fledged balloon glow, but that had to wait for Saturday night when the winds died down to calm.

Overall, I came away from this event with a great time under my belt, and many new friends to look forward to returning to next year!

Friday Night's Burner Glow at Cereal City USA

Keith's single Aerostar Zone 5 burner

A pair of Aerostar Zone 5's on a nearby basket

Different view...

The hand that controls the flame!

Keith's burner firing on the chariot lower end

Jen & Dar... Bitter NY Football rivals!
Jets! No, Giants!

Flames in the dark

Dar has special powers... Just not sure what good they are for!

Indeed, it was hot out there!

Cameron Sirocco burners

Tony & Keith

Tony & Jon

Dar holding open the mouth of "Pointless"

Inflated and ready to glow

Fearless captain Jon at the helm

Pull this line... To go DOWN!

Sunday AM; Dar is getting ready to chase

Jen with Chris (Head Merrymaker)

Sugar Bear takes off as Sunday morning's Hare

Wait, how did POST get their balloons in here?

Keith straightens some stuff out

Our friendly neighbors to the left

The Lindstrand X Racer Chase Donner was flying


Upright and nearly there

One last look around...

Almost Ready...

Just... About...

In the air!

A look back on the parking lot

Phil Clinger's balloon in the middle

Andy Baird and the Federal Building

Jim Neill's homebuilt 65k

Some of the group

Some more of them...

A few more here...

A few more there...

David Seekell's Viva

Paul Quandee's "Cherry Bomb" in the top middle

Low over a school on the way to the Santa-Declared Target

Our Shadow playing in the trees

The target at the Leila Arboretum

Coming up to the "X", baggie in hand

After throwing, pop up to catch the hare balloon well to the right.

Sugar Bear is down and the basket is the target

Approaching the second task, the Duckie Drop

Trevor Engler's beautiful Cameron Z-105

The gang ahead of us

Sugar Bear, accepting duck deposits.

Chad Dennis' balloon up at the top left

A couple morning fans!

"Cherry Bomb"


Al Hansen in the middle

Al Smith behind

Jeremy Fox in the back