Forest Park Balloon Glow

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After work on Friday, Anne and I biked over to the Park.  It was getting dark even as we were heading out, but we both had bike lights and we took a safe route.  Halfway there, at Wydown and Skinker, we got our first look at the craziness that this year’s balloon glow had created.  Of the myriad of civic events that the Park hosts throughout the year none of those other events come even close to the traffic snarl that the balloon glow creates. 

They use to hold the balloon glow on aviation field, at least until MODOT complained.  Drivers on what would eventually become the New I-64 would slow to watch the event and consequently jam the highway.  They then tried to create a drive by event between Government Hill and Post-Dispatch Lake, but the cops couldn’t keep the traffic flowing.  So they moved the glow to the central ball fields, deep within the recesses of the Park.

This year, when we reached Skinker, the western edge of the Park, Anne and I ducked onto the bike path.  I knew that we would face untrained pedestrians, but since all the roads were clogged, it seemed the lesser of two evils.  Turns out that I chose wisely, the pedestrian traffic was minimal and the only time that I had to face vehicular traffic was at the bike path crossings.  I did not mind these encounters, because they allowed me the opportunity to exercise some of my schadenfreude.  It truly was a god awful traffic jam.

We arrived at the ball fields, parked our bikes against a backstop and then dove into the crowd.  What makes the balloon glow such a popular event is the proximity that the balloons and their public enjoy.  On Saturday afternoon, when the balloons hopefully fly, the crowd is held back.  On Friday night you can walk right up to any of the balloon’s baskets and strike up a conversation with its pilot.  If he takes a shinning to you, you might get to pull the throttle.

Once every five or ten minutes a horn goes off.  This is the signal for all the balloonists to light their torches.  Most of the photos with this post were taken in the mad minute after the horn had been blown.  We didn’t stay long there, maybe forty-five minutes, before we were back on our bikes.  We retraced our route back out of the Park.  We were on the bike path along Lindell and a fire engine was trying to get through the traffic.  We kept pace with it until it reached its emergency destination.  Once we got west of Skinker, traffic died away and we rode home together and we were happy too.  🙂

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