Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Elvis and Friends Ready to Take Flight

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Elvis and Friends Ready to Take Flight

Article excerpt


WHAT: The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in association with PNC Bank.

WHEN: 1 to 10 p.m. Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Mass hot air balloon ascensions at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

WHERE: Solberg Airport, Readington.

HOW MUCH: $20 advance and $30 at the gate. Children ages 4 to 12 are $10 advance and $15 at the gate. Ages 3 and under are free. General admission includes concert lawn seating.

INFO: balloonfes, 800-HOT-AIR9.

MUSIC SCHEDULE: Blues Traveler, 8 p.m. Friday; REO Speedwagon, 8 p.m. Saturday; R5 featuring Ross Lynch, 1 p.m. Sunday; and Big & Rich, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Elvis was always larger than life, but at the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, the King is even bigger than his actual 5-foot, 11-inch stature on the Vegas stage: 105 feet tall, to be exact.

Elvis, with his 40-foot-wide shades, is one of eight specialty balloons that will take flight this weekend at the balloon festival, joining more than 100 other balloons in the skies. The event also includes rock concerts, amusement park rides, a human cannonball, a 5K run and arts, crafts and food vendors.

Throughout the day there are smaller concerts and performances, including magic acts, mountain-bike trick demonstrations, jugglers, and comedians. There will also be a fireworks display on Friday night and a nighttime balloon "glow" on Saturday, where pilots of dozens of balloons in the air flash their burners to make the balloons glimmer in the night sky.

"I really enjoy coming to New Jersey every year because it's such a great festival," said Patrick Fogue, a professional balloon pilot who will be at the helm of the Pepsi football balloon. "There is just so much to do there."

Fogue grew up in Iowa, which was home to early hot-air balloon festivals because the military chose that locale to train blimp pilots in the late 1950s.

An uncle bought a balloon and riding in it was just like taking a trip on a relative's boat on the local lake.

"It's a hobby much like boating," said Fogue. "You can go buy a good used balloon for $12,000 or $15,000 or you can get a brand new one with all the bells and whistles for $50,000. …

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