He sent a black balloon into the air as the balloonists at Grayslake's inaugural Color Aloft festival looked on. The black balloon floated high into the sky, drifting slightly north, indicating that it was safe for launch. Within minutes, Bassett was on stage, announcing that after just two more songs, the event would begin.
The red, white and blue RE/MAX balloon, piloted by William Baker of Cary, was the first to launch. Baker first inflated the balloon using an industrial-sized fan. Then, after Baker started the burner and flames shot upward into the balloon, the basket tipped upward and the balloon lifted off of the ground.
The RE/MAX balloon served as the "fox" in a "fox and hounds" event. The balloon flew to an undisclosed location, and the other balloons left to find it. As each of the balloons inflated and launched, the crowd cheered loudly.
The next balloon to launch was the green and yellow "Deere John" balloon, piloted by John C. Trione of Lake Geneva, WI. The other balloons included:
- "In Harmony," piloted by Nick White of New Berlin, WI
- "Pengwind," piloted by Kelly Neill of Naperville
- A balloon piloted by John Rucker of Genoa City, WI
- "Stellar," piloted by Jim Neill of Riverwoods
- "Black Magic," piloted by Jim Grazier of Waukegan
The evening also included music from Slam Funk; food from Dog N Suds, Smokey's BBQ and Tropical Chill; and a rocket-building booth.
Which balloon was your favorite? Tell us in the comment section!
Be sure to check out all of our videos from the event: