Balloon enthusiasts want to pass on their passion

Balloon enthusiasts want to pass on their passion. (WICS)

Many call Balloons Over Vermilion a once in a lifetime experience.

The deep-rooted tradition in the community that started with the Balloon Classic, which hasn’t been around for about the last 15 years. Each year hot air balloons would sail across Danville.

The tradition was gone until 2016, when volunteers decided to start Balloons Over Vermilion.

“The community needs events like this,” Balloons Over Vermilion chairman Pat O'Shaughnessy said. “When we brought it back last year, when they flew on Friday night, there was just this collective ‘ah’ and I told the pilots that when we got done, that you don’t know how much the community needed something like this.”

O'Shaughnessy says this massive balloon event could not have been brought back without a ton of help.

“Vermilion County has always been the volunteer county,” O'Shaughnessy said. “When we put the call out, boom, we get ‘em!”

It takes nearly 600 volunteers to put on balloons over vermilion. One volunteer, Debbie Carlton-Vish, runs a balloon school for kids each year.

“I am volunteering here and sharing my ballooning experiences with all the people and the children so they can learn about hot air ballooning and science,” balloon pilot Donna Carlton-Vish said.

And its volunteers like these who say they hope to ignite enough interest into these kids… and inspire the next generation of balloon pilots.

"We need to prepare the next generation of pilots,” Carlton-Vish said. “The younger we get a student, the more interested they are in flying of any sort and then perhaps hot air balloon flying would be something they'd be interested in and start taking lessons"

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