This Summer, Take Your Eyes to the Skies!
By: Dawn McKenzie
May 18, 2012 9:57 am CT
Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means it is the official launch of summer! The calendar is already beginning to fill up and I can’t wait to get my fill of the patio at Big Star, enjoying a picnic on a Friday night at the Grant Park Music Festival, Cubs games, street fests, strolling through the Green City Market and more! However, one of my favorite summertime activities is unique to most people: hot air ballooning! I’ve been a hot air balloon pilot for nearly 15 years and still, nothing is more exciting than witnessing a mass balloon launch.
You may not realize that you experience this magical sight right here in Chicagoland. The Eyes to the Skies Balloonfest takes place in Lisle from June 29 to July 1. In fact, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the event. The festival includes performances by nationally known musical groups, the best in local band performances, a large carnival, a 100-booth craft fair, a special children’s area, and of course, daily launches of hot air balloons and a balloon glow. Hot air balloons fly just after sunrise and a few hours before sunset and only when conditions warrant a safe flight: winds under 10 knots and clear skies. Be sure to review the official schedule for more information. I’ll be there with my balloon as will many of my family members who are also pilots. We will represent seven of the 20 balloons in attendance!
The event was voted Best Festival by readers of West Suburban Living Magazine and named a member of the Illinois Festival Hall of Fame. The Hampton Inn even named it as a place to visit in its Year of 1,000 Weekends.
If you’re interested in mixing up your summer calendar this year, consider the Eyes to the Skies Balloonfest. Check out their website if you’re interested in volunteer opportunities (such as participating as a hot air balloon crew member)!