Balloon Glow Cedar Rapids 2021: same balloons, new location, plus giant kites
Balloons are filled with hot air at dusk during the 2019 Cedar Rapids Balloon Glow along Sinclair Levee in the NewBo District. The 2020 event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Balloon Glow returns on June 22 to Hawkeye Downs in southwest Cedar Rapids. The event will also feature Great American Kites, as well as Elisabeth Von Presley in concert. (Ben Roberts / Independent)
The night sky over Hawkeye Downs will be lit by incandescent hot air balloons as Balloon Glow returns at the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival – but it won’t just be balloons in the air this year.
Dozens of huge kites, some over 60 feet long, will also be featured at the event.
Great American Kites, based in Polo, Missouri, has a few hundred large kites in all kinds of eye-catching designs: aquatic animals, horses, astronauts, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and even an Iron Man balloon. Owner Sean Beaver compared the size and range of kites to the type of balloons during Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Beaver has been passionate about kites since childhood and has never stopped.
He said that over the past 10 years he and his wife, Stephanie Beaver, have gone from kite enthusiasts to a company offering fancy kite displays in seven states.
What: Balloon glow and large American kites
Or: Hawkeye Downs, 4400 Sixth St. SW, Cedar Rapids
When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 22
Characteristics: Captive hot air balloons, giant kites, Alisabeth Von Presley concert
Tickets: $ 20 for capsules that can hold up to six people; pre-purchased on bit.ly/2RzL4O7
Supplements: Doors open at 6 p.m. Soft-sided coolers with food and drink outside are allowed, but don’t bring alcohol; alcohol, food and drink are available for purchase; no smoking, pets, fireworks, sparklers
Information: freedom festival.com /
âWe are literally in the incredible business of remembrance for families and communities – not just for children – really for young and old,â he said.
Stephanie’s favorite is a giant unicorn-shaped kite.
âI hope to put some glittery clogs on it and make it even brighter,â she said. “It’s just my favorite because it’s fun and there are so many kids adoring it, and the excitement when people see a unicorn, whether it’s adults or kids, and I always have it myself. “
The huge kites, which can measure from 30 to almost 200 feet in length, are set up by a crew of three to four and are anchored to the ground. Weather conditions determine which kites can be flown each day.
âSome of these kites will pull 1,600 to 3,000 pounds of force and more, so we have a lot of things to do in the field to make sure they’re anchored correctly and securely,â Sean said.
Clifford the Big Red Dog, astronauts and aquatic animals are among the huge creations Great American Kites will bring to the expanded Balloon Glow event on June 22, 2021 at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. (Great American kits and events)
Although transporting kites across the country involves a lot of travel and long days, Sean said his mission to bring families and communities together keeps him alive.
âIt’s a lot of hard work. It’s a tough way to do it, but the payoff is really in the people who come out, âhe said. âOne of my favorite photos to get is always the people who keep looking up. No matter what challenges you are going through, there is always something to keep your chin up. It’s a kind of metaphor through the kites.
New location, same balloons
Balloon Glow, which previously took place at Brucemore Estate and Sinclair Levee, is moving to Hawkeye Downs to allow more space between spectators. Capacity will also be limited, to account for social distancing, Freedom Festival executive director Karol Shepherd said.
Tickets, which can be purchased in advance, cost $ 20 and can cover groups of up to six people. A Freedom Festival button is not required for entry.
In a press release, Shepherd said the sponsors understood this year’s balloon glow change.
âBack then, we anticipated (what) would be a big, open space where people could really distance themselves socially if that’s what we always do,â Shepherd said. âSo we landed on Hawkeye Downs. We are really excited to have this event there this year.
Shepherd said the event is still in need of volunteers to help organize the iconic summer event, especially those who want to work at the entrance to the event and help keep traffic flowing.
Volunteers will receive a free t-shirt and $ 25 for a non-profit organization of their choice.
Cedar Rapids balloon pilot Susan Stamats has been a part of Balloon Glow since its inception, before the event was part of the Freedom Festival.
The idea for the now classic event began when a friend from Stamats and her husband strapped in and lit her hot air balloon around July 4th.
The idea quickly sprouted, and Stamats and others got together and showed off their glowing balloons on the grounds of Brucemore Mansion.
âAt first we had people coming with their kids in carts and they would bring blankets and coolers and things like that,â Stamats said. “I think in the first year we had 200 people, and before Freedom Fest took over, we had 1000 people and we had eight or nine balloons there.”
This year, 10 light-up balloons will be attached to the Hawkeye Downs trail.
Stamats is shining two 77,000 cubic foot balloons this year, one of which makes its Balloon Glow debut. The eclectic balloon features a golden retriever, a cat, the moon and the stars.
Stamats said she was thrilled the event was returning. She appreciates the close interaction festival goers can have with the huge balloons when wind conditions allow.
âIt’s really great to have the kids to come. They are always curious, âshe said. âIf we didn’t have people there it would be really boring because a ball just doesn’t want to stay there. He wants to fly.
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