By ROXANN MILLER
10:08 PM EDT, August 4, 2012
Canceling Saturday night’s balloon launch at Green Grove Gardens Hot Air Balloon Festival was the last thing balloonmeister David Robinson wanted to happen.
But Robinson said safety is his No. 1 concern.
To the onlooker, it might have looked like clear skies and smooth sailing, but Robinson said too much wind made a balloon flight too risky.
“I would much rather have it be raining so people understand. These are the worst kinds of days to cancel a flight because it looks pretty.” Robinson said, “Wind is just as big an enemy for us as thunderstorms are.”
Even though Ray Smigelski of Williamsport waited three hours to watch his wife, Kim, take a balloon ride, he understood why the launch was canceled.
“I’m not really upset. I understand they can’t go up because of the winds, but it’s been a long wait and it’s kind of disappointing that they can’t (go up),” he said.
While his wife plans to return today to make another attempt at sailing off into the sunset, Smigelski had no such desire.
“My feet stay on the ground,” he said.
Lois Sensenig, 40, and Marie Musselman, 83, both of Greencastle, were a little disappointed by Saturday’s canceled flight, but said they will be back today at 5:30 a.m. in time for the 6 a.m. liftoff, weather permitting.
“I’ve gone before. I loved it.” Sensenig said. “It’s very peaceful. It’s a very smooth ride — just beautiful.”
The two have had reservations since March.
“I have always wanted to go up in one,” Musselman said.
Mandy Baker of Greencastle was looking forward to seeing the 12 balloons glide across the nighttime sky on Saturday.
“I’m really disappointed,” she said.
Baker came to the first balloon festival in 2010 and loved watching the balloons launch.
Baker, her children, Kyle and Emily, 7, her parents, Lynn and Ken Rearick of Falling Waters, W.Va., and her niece, Bri Rearick, 10, of Falling Waters, arrived several hours before the balloon launch to take advantage of the other activities at the festival.
“They have a lot of different things for the kids,” Baker said.
About 5,000 people flocked to the balloon festival. While attendance was good, Green Grove Gardens Manager Keith McCleaf said the numbers were down from the first year’s attendance in 2010. He said the festival is held every other year so the event won’t lose its appeal.
Flights cost $175 and last for 30 to 60 minutes.
While the main attraction of the festival is a balloon launch, McCleaf said there’s more to the festival than the balloons.
Admission to the festival is $15 per car load. The festival has 40 craft and food vendors, a children’s activities area with carnival games, sand art, barrel train rides, inflatables, pony rides, and entertainment, McCleaf said.
The balloon festival continues today from 3 p.m. to dusk.
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