BALLOONS TO PLAY BIG PART IN OLEPUT
By Terri Tabor
Ronald Brown looks forward to climbing into bed after his night shift at Delta International. But around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, his wife Stacie, alarmed by an unusual clamor, wouldn’t let him fall into his normal routine.
Brown said his wife exclaimed there was a balloon flying over their trailer. “I thought she was crazy,” he said.
But Stacy was wasn’t crazy. A colorful hot air balloon soared over their home in Eggville disturbing not only the Browns, but spooking dogs and cattle.
“It just rumbled and rumbled,” Stacie said.
Fearful that the balloon might crash, Stacie and her husband went to find the balloon. “I was just going to make sure nobody was in trouble or needed a lift,” Stacie said.
The couple found the deflated balloon in a nearby field where it had landed safely.
Piloted by Mark Bowie of Greenwood, the balloon was carrying local media persons who were getting a sneak peak of balloon festivities at Tupelo’s upcoming Oleput (Tupelo spelled backward) festival. Bowie, president of Balloon Promotions Inc., is spearheading the balloon races which will be a first for OLEPUT.
Bowie was amused at the number of people who showed up at the landing thinking they had crashed.
“It’s a big misconception in that people think when you land in someone’s backyard or store parking lot, playground or beside of the road that all of the balloons crash when they land,” Bowie said. “It never happens but that’s what they think.”
Northeast Mississippians had better be prepared as a hot air balloon could drop in their neighborhood during the OLEPUT races. Twenty-four balloons from in state as well as out of state will dot the skies May 31-June 2. The race will be sanctioned by the Balloon Federation of America.
“This is a great place to fly,” Bowie said. “Because you have a lot of pastures and not a lot of row crops. It’s hard to land in a guy’s cornfield and get forgiven.”
Balloon festivities will take off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30, with a balloon glow at the fairgrounds. Balloon glows will also be held on Friday and Saturday evenings. Racing is slated to begin on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6:15 p.m., depending on weather conditions.
Although there is no more room for entries, organizers are still looking for sponsors. A sponsorship costs $850 which gives the sponsors an opportunity to fly in the balloon and have their business logo on the balloon.
Also, coordinators are trying to organize 20 crews of four to six people who can chase the balloons to their landing points. In addition, pick-up trucks and vans are needed.
For more information on becoming a sponsor or a chaser call Debbie Stauffer at 841-6510.