Lincoln ‘Balloons Over 66’ returns with health and safety measures

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[July 28, 2020]     Who can believe that it is almost August. Since March, our community has been stuck in a twilight zone and all those special events we normally enjoy throughout our summers went away.

It would be good to have something to look forward to, some bright spot in the future that we can work toward.

Well, that bright spot is set to happen on Friday and Saturday, August 28th and 29th. Thanks to local hot air balloon pilot Seth Goodman ‘Balloons over Route 66’ will return again this year.

The last Lincoln Balloon Festival was held in 2017. There were no balloons and no festival activities in 2018.

Goodman, who has been flying for several years and greatly enjoys the challenges and thrills of piloting, missed having the balloons come to his hometown. In 2019 he put together a downsized version of the festival with private funding and help from friends and local supporters.

The event last year, and for this year as well, includes having pilots and balloons scattered throughout the city and its outskirts. Lift offs are planned to take place in the early morning and evenings from those varied locations.

What’s different for this year is the location of the ‘Glow.’ Glows are when balloons stay earthbound and pilots light up their balloon and the night sky by blasting flames while tethered to the ground.

In 2019, a number of the balloons came together at the city owned property on Eighth Street for a night glow.

This year, the event will take on a slightly different structure in an effort to keep down the number of spectators gathered in any one place.

“As you will see,” said Goodman, “pilots will be scattered amongst the heart of, and just outside of Lincoln, Illinois throughout the weekend in an effort to space everyone and everything out. Each launch site offers ample space and will allow the public to watch the launches [and] glows from a distance.”

The primary difference this year will be the location for the Saturday evening glow event. While all the balloonists were gathered together in one location last year, this year pilots will return to their designated launch sites for glow activities.

Spectators will be encouraged to visit the sites of their favorite balloons and watch while keeping their distance. Many of the locations are wide open spaces where guests can watch from their cars.

Currently, Goodman says there are 22 pilots who have signed up to attend, which include a few new ones who have not been to Lincoln in the past.

Pilots have been assigned to one of eight locations in and around Lincoln with only two to four balloons per location.

Goodman also noted that pilots may ask to be reassigned. So, while the list is complete, specific balloon locations are subject to change.

Launches will take place at each site on Friday evening August 28th at approximately 6:15 p.m., Saturday morning, August 29th at 6:30 a.m. and Saturday evening at 6:15 p.m.

The glows will take place on Saturday evening from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Goodman also noted that to avoid large gatherings this year he is not asking for people to show up at the sites if they want to crew a balloon. He will be talking to prospective crew members one-on-one and making assignments. Anyone who would like to crew may contact Goodman directly beforehand to see if there are spots available.

The tentative balloon location launch sites for this year:

Mayfair Park
(Mayfair Subdivision just off North Kickapoo Street, Lincoln)

Pilots: Deb Griest, Tim Cloyd and Tom Klitz

1500 North McLean Street
Dugan Center

Pilots: Al Reusch and Dan Reusch

1409 Pulaski Street
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Pilots: James Phelan and Jim Phelan

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318 Eight Street
(Former ALMH now city owned lot)

Pilots: Seth Goodman, Cody Dorgan, Greg Saul and Darrel Day

1616 North Union Street
Doolin residence

Pilots: Dennis Sutter and Patrick Shocklee

1386 and 1390 Pelican Hill Ct, Legends Subdivision
Ferguson and Nelson residences

Pilots: Kurt Vitense, Mike Boylan and Mike England

455 Campus View Drive
Bateman residence

Pilots: Dave Doesdorfer, Scott Wooge and Pat Brouillet

1413 State Route 121
Tanner residence

Pilots Dean Carlton, Chris Keefe and Alex Jonard

In addition to the balloons, the Oasis Senior Center will host a vendor fair and a “corn/chicken feed” at the Senior Center at 2810 Woodlawn Road.

Hours will be:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the vendor fair.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the corn and chicken feed.

So, while activities may not be the same as last year, Goodman and the committee he works with have done the best they can to bring something fun to the community without risking the health of our residents.

Mark your calendars, pic your pilots and make a plan to go out and enjoy the glory of balloons in flight.

And, as always, all launches are subject to weather conditions.

[Nila Smith]


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