REDDINGTON NJ – As with so many things in life, a Travels With The Post road trip doesn’t always go as expected. That certainly was the case Saturday (July 29, 2023), when plans for a balloon feature went bust.
We had hopes of presenting our audiences with photos and video that showed colorful passenger balloons rising into the weekend skies over Reddington NJ. We carried four video-capable cameras and other devices, intending to live-stream the flights via Facebook.
Sadly, fulfilling our hopes was not on Mother Nature’s to-do list.
She did supply a sunny, albeit humid, morning and afternoon. When evening neared, however, she brought rain, thunder, lightning, and higher altitude winds to the township’s Solberg Airport. For safety reasons, officials pulled the plug on the balloon launch scheduled for the second day of the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning.
There was no opportunity for live-streaming. We did, however, take plenty of images and posted them as items to our Facebook pages in real time. What follows is a chronological re-creation of those entries.
‘Flights of Fancy on Facebook’ was the working headline
Hi there, fellow travelers! It’s Saturday (July 29, 2023) at 2:20 p.m., and your managing editor is leaving Pennsburg on a Perkiomen Tours bus bound for the 40th New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning at Solberg Airport in Reddington Township NJ. We’ll show you some of the sights in real time.
4:09 pm. Only minutes now from our balloon festival destination. Found a coffee shop in Pennsburg, Speakeasy Coffee Company, which roasts its own blends. Enjoyed a medium cup (at left) of its house brew while we were on the ride.
4:48 p.m. We’ve disembarked from the bus. Security personnel inspected all bags and backpacks before we were admitted through the gates. We and 42 other Perkiomen Tours passengers have officially arrived at the balloon festival in Readington. It’s packed (above) with people.
Keeping visitors entertained
5:14 p.m. Performers from a group billed as “The Fearless Flores Family Thrill Show” are providing entertainment under a big tent (below) and nearby outside, where two balloons are starting to inflate.
5:21 p.m. If you ever wanted to see inside an inflating balloon (below), this was your chance. They charged $2 a head. Notice there’s a significant line.
Another member of the Flores Family troupe (in the video above) climbs an aerial sway pole, balances atop it, performs upside down, then snaps the pole free and makes a 360° arc. The crowd screams in delight! Not long after, Flores’ daredevils drive motorcycles inside a steel globe (in the video below).
If all of this reminds you of a circus, that’s exactly what it is … for now. This entertainment is intended to precede two big events, which include a scheduled balloon launch at 6:30 p.m., and an “awesome” balloon glow event at 8:30 p.m.
A threat, and then the arrival, of storms
5:40 p.m. We expected this was a possibility, but were hoping against it. They’ve made an announcement at the balloon festival that winds are stronger than expected, and they foresee rain coming. Any balloon launch will be postponed for at least an hour, or may be canceled entirely. As you can see (above), the skies don’t look very promising. We’re spending our time roaming through vendor exhibits.
6:41 p.m. An hour has passed, the weather has stayed clear so far, and the crowd remains undeterred. People are relaxing on the lawn (above and below) near the airport runways where the festival is located, as they continue to patiently wait for the balloons to go up.
6:42 p.m. Within minutes, things (below) have begun to look worse. The storm now is obviously moving quickly. Everyone’s glancing up, and then around .. for shelter. Light, then heavier, droplets are falling.
6:58 p.m. The crowd suffered through a moderate rain of about 15 minutes’ duration at the balloon festival. Some folks got drenched, and didn’t seem to mind. We and a couple hundred other fortunate souls were crowded beneath a tent that had been erected for shade, not rain, protection.
The wind remains somewhat strong. We’ll see what happens in another few minutes. At any rate, right now we’ve got a rainbow (above) to look at.
Boogie, but not balloons
7:23 p.m. They have just announced that, because of thunder still in the area, it is unlikely balloons will go up tonight. 1970s disco music sensation KC and the Sunshine Band, observing its 50th anniversary, is the featured concert performer tonight at Solberg Airport. Announcers suggested we enjoy the show and the vendors on the two runways at the airfield.
The concert is a separately ticketed event on a canopied stage. A “concert upgrade” salesman standing beneath a nearby tent says audience seats are priced at $49, $69, and $99, cash. Credit cards are not being accepted.
It is possible to hear and see the show, however, without paying a dime. Many visitors apparently anticipated that. They brought folding chairs, and are beginning to set them up on the lawn about a football field’s length from the stage.
Those who apparently waited long enough (above) are making for the exits.
8:12 p.m. The balloon launches are officially canceled. They will not occur at the festival tonight. Maybe Sunday’s attendance will be luckier. While the breeze on the ground is mild, announcers say upper level winds are too strong for balloons to fly safely. Meanwhile, KC and the Sunshine Band has started to play and sing.
A few balloon owners have agreed to take some equipment out of or off their trucks (above) to show the public how it works, and to answer questions.
8:35 p.m. When you’re young (at right), and when you have no idea who KC and the Sunshine Band is, only lightsabers at 20 paces will do.
Thanks to all who followed along
8:45 p.m. The night is drawing to a close. Our return bus to Pennsburg leaves shortly. Facebook Insights reports more than 1,700 readers followed along today on all or parts of this journey. It was published on Facebook pages of both The Sanatoga Post and Travels With The Post. Your managing editor offers his sincere thanks. We’ll do it again as opportunities arise!
Photos and videos by Travels With The Post