Friday, November 2, 2012
Celina Balloon Festival a success despite frigid weather
More than 20,000 people braved the cold on Halloween weekend for the 7th annual event.
CELINA Cold, rainy weather may have hampered attendance at the 2012 Celina Balloon Festival, but the annual event, now in its seventh year, managed to draw more than 20,000 visitors Friday and Saturday at Old Celina Park.
Event organizers were hoping for as many as 30,000 visitors, and David Whiteman, Celina Chamber of Commerce president, said they would have “killed that number had it been 10 degrees warmer.” He said that preliminary projections for attendance were in the 20,000-25,000 range and that the festival was a financial success, though official totals on the number of visitors or amount earned are not yet available.
“It was an excellent event, though Mother Nature wasn’t kind to us,” Whiteman said.
After inclement weather last year grounded them, the hot air balloons at the center of the festival were able to take to the skies Saturday, including the featured balloon, Miss Daisy. The more than 1,000-pound, flower-shaped balloon stayed tethered to the ground in a static launch because high winds sent balloons that had gone up prior speeding along too quickly. It took those pilots just eight minutes to reach Plano.
The biggest draws at the festival were a skydiving display from Skydive Dallas and a remote control demonstration that included a flying witch on a broom stick and a lawn mower that remained balanced in the air despite its lack of aerodynamics.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Celina, a festival sponsor, was a primary beneficiary from the foot traffic. The restaurant had an on-site smoker, and owner Phil Lezar said they sold more than 700 sandwiches and a good amount of brisket and brisket tacos at the event.
“Barbecue really lends itself to that kind of festival atmosphere,” he said, adding that it also gave his business added exposure and the opportunity to pass out menus and order forms for its holiday catering. “I think it was a home run.”
While the festival will likely return next year, the Celina Chamber board of directors still must vote to make it official. They won’t hold the vote until at least a month has passed since the event was held – a chamber rule – so an announcement on the status of the eighth annual balloon festival won’t likely come until early December.
Every year, the chamber reassesses when the festival is held, and they could choose to again shift when it takes place next year. In 2011, it was held during the first week of November, one of three weekends with the best potential to provide cool, sunny weather conducive to ballooning and festival attendance.
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