2017's NJ Balloon Festival Looks to Soar Higher Than Ever
Joanna Gagis talks with the Executive Director of the 35th Annual Quickchek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, Howard Freeman, about what people can expect at the Festival of Ballooning taking place on July 28th, 29th and 30th.
"Welcome back to Life & Living. Every Summer in New Jersey, the sky fills with the beautiful colors and shapes of balloons rising into the air at the Annual Quickchek Balloon Festival, and I'm joined right now by the Executive Director Howard Freeman. Welcome Howard! Thanks Joanna. Good to... Good to be back. Good to have you back. You are a repeat offender here on Life & Living. Uh oh. We love having you back, because, first of all, you're involved in so many things in the state. Lots of festivals. One of them is this balloon festival. It's been a huge... it's been a marquee event in New Jersey for 35 years now? Yes. I started it when I was about 12. Yes, I can tell! [laughter] It's grown to become the largest Summertime balloon and music festival in North America, right here in Readington, New Jersey, 45 minutes from New York City, and conveniently located off the main highways from everywhere in New Jersey. We know this festival has grown over the years. Just quickly remind us how it started. It started on a small truck stop in Balloonsbury out on Route 78. Is that a real town? It was Bloomsbury. Okay. [laughter] And for that weekend it was called “Balloonsbury". Got it. [laughter] There were about 10 balloons, and about 100 people. Since that time, I've probably met 500 of those 100 people who swear that they were there. As it grew, and then 25 years ago, my team took over the festival, moved it to Solberg Airport, and grew it to where it is today, where we have, we're expecting 175,000 of my closest balloonatic friends. [laughter] Over 100 hot air balloons. And then more than just hot air. We have concerts for every member and age of the family. A lot of hot air, a lot of balloonatics. I love it. A lot of crazies around you, huh? [laughter] Crazy about balloons. So what can we expect in terms of the number of balloons going up in the air? The number of attendees at this event? Talk us through what we're gonna see. Okay. You know, the event is July 28th to the 30th. All the information's on balloonfestival.com. Or you can call 1-800-HOT-AIR-9. Right there is one of the special shapes, is the PNC Salutes American Flag balloon. We'll probably have 10 to 15 special shaped balloons, including the Lover Bees, cause it's our 35th anniversary. We're gonna bring back the Lover Bees. You just... I saw that adorable teddy bear right there. You just saw that Bimbo Bear. Yes. For the Bimbo Bakery. We'll have a Pepsi hot air football. We'll have the... that's the PNC American Flag balloon. We'll have the Lover Bees, which we've brought back. We haven't..."