Part 1 of 2: Balloons blow up, float away and then what

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Clear blue skies, light winds, and 70 degrees are perfect conditions for a Hot Air Balloon Race.  This past Saturday Pepsi presented their 22nd Annual Hot Air Balloon Race in the City Park of New Haven.

Spectators lined the street from one end to the other, cars parked as far as the American Legion, an estimated 1,000 people turned out to watch 20 balloons take off, filling the sky, providing a sight to be hold.  Bill Quick said, “This is the most people I have ever seen out here.”

After the balloons took off it was as the town stood still, cars pulled off the roadway and everyone staring into the sky as the balloons floated through the beautiful blue skys.

The race featured two nonconventional looking balloons; a Pepsi Can from Pepsi Aerosports, and a big bag of popcorn from Wehrenberg Theaters.

Everyone sits and watches the balloons blow up and take off, but few know about what happens after they are gone.

The annual event is called a race for a reason, not in the sense of how fast they can catch the hare balloon (first balloon to take off) but which pilot can navigate to where the hare lands.  The pilots must then throw their beanbag at the target, with out letting their basket touch the ground or they are disqualified. The pilot who is the closet to the middle of a big "X" wins.

I had the privilege to ride in the hare balloon, the big Pepsi can, and watch as balloons slowly came in, trying to be the one who throws their bag closet to the target.

It was like watching little objects randomly fall from the sky.  There was one throw I had to take cover, as it seemed to be coming right at me, but landed about 50 feet behind me.

It was an amazing site as each balloon flew overtop and landed in a field about a quarter mile away.  Several people thought we had landed in Swiss or Stony Hill, when we actually landed near the intersection of Dissen Road and Highway Y.

What happens next?

Where are the winners announced and what do the winners get?  We are the only one with the rest of the story in part 2 of this story later this week, along with more photos from high above New Haven.

On half of Pepsi Cola Bottling Company, Ellen Zobrist wanted to thank everyone who attended the this years Hot Air Balloon Race as well as all the sponsors, who made this years race possible:

Backes & Toelke Agri Products, Bank of Franklin County, Citizens Bank, Edward Jones of New Haven – Jim Stiles, Hair, John Fischer – Re/Max First, Larry Hanks Painting, Peoples Savings Bank, Quicks’s Save-A-Lot, Re/Max Today, and Robller Vineyard & Winery.