Inaugural balloon jamboree a soaring success

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The inaugural Bluff City Balloon Jamboree was a soaring success last weekend despite some gusty conditions.

Tickets sold out early and thousands were able to take in the bulging beauty of more than a dozen colorful hot air balloons north of the Collierville Walmart Supercenter over Father’s Day weekend.

The event began Friday evening and hosted hundreds of special needs children, sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of the greater Mid-South.

Saturday’s festivities began at dawn with a mass ascension of balloons, some of which were created to resemble characters like Darth Vader, Yoda and Elvis Presley.

“The festival was just awesome in Collierville this weekend,” said Tim Netherton, an event volunteer and board member for the Collierville Education Foundation. “(It was) such a wonderful feeling to see more than 10,000 people enjoying an event in Collierville.”

Toni Durham, owner of Durham Events and Bluff City Balloons, said, “As an owner and operator of a hot-air balloon company here in the Mid-South, I’ve been able to participate in balloon festivals all over the country and we wanted to be able to host an event here in our hometown.”

The event was initially planned for 2020 but was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Due to Shelby County Health Department Guidelines, only 5,000 attendees were allowed at the event each day, according to volunteer Susan Ewing of Ewing Marketing Partners.

“Attendance was limited by the Health Department, not anyone’s choice in Collierville,” said Netherton. “We are sorry, yet fortunate, that the event sold out in advance.”

Ewing said that wind gusts also created a need to ground balloons on occasion.

“As it was our first time doing this, there were a few bumps along the way,” said Netherton, “but overall, it went really well.”

Chad Lindsay, vice president and general manager of Alston Construction, the event presenter, said his group was “delighted to participate in and be the presenting sponsor.”

“It was a great opportunity to support and benefit the local Collierville and Memphis community through the Collierville Rotary Club and the Collierville Education Foundation,”

Lindsay said. “We were excited to be there and looking forward to next year. It was really great to see the Alston Construction hot air balloon in the air with 20 other balloons. Seeing the impact on the community, including the Friday night Special Night for Special Kids event, was remarkable.”