Billed as a Balloon Music Festival, more than 50 balloons registered for the two-day event which included morning mass ascensions, daily tethered rides, a balloon glow, a classic car show and big-name entertainment on two stages.
"This is going to be a fun event, said balloonmeister, Dale Wong, who operates Flight Odyssey in Etiwanda, California "But the fact that we have balloons coming in from such places as Canada, England, Mexico and New Zealand gives it an international flair.
"The festival is a small event, but because there are some balloons coming in from outside the United States, it's unusual for a community program. Personally, what I want to do is to bring balloons closer to the community. Some people see us when we fly out of Etiwanda, but balloon flights are more common in places like Perris Valley and Temecula. Balloons are beautiful to watch, and I want to share that beauty."
Among the balloon entrants were specialty shapes from Korbel Champagne, Ball Park Frank, U-Haul and the Canadian Department of Tourism. "Oggy" the friendly bright green sea serpent owned by Ron Martin from Canada made his premier flight in California at Prado Park during the festival.
The weekend's musical entertainment featured a variety of artists. Headlining the event was Gary Puckett, who used to lead Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. Puckett performed such tunes as "Young Girl" and "Woman" Saturday at 8 p.m., before an enthusiastic crowd on the KOLA 99.9 stage. Twinkling before Puckett's performance was a balloon glow staged around Prado Lake. The headliner on Sunday was Mr. "I Love A Rainy Night," Eddie Rabbitt, who performed before a captivated audience at 5 p.m. on the K-FROG 95.1 stage.
Hovering over the area like a wet blanket, fog infiltrated the Park grounds Saturday morning, canceling the hare and hound competition. Sunday's race got off to a late start after the fog finally decided to lift about 8:30 a.m. with RE/MAX acting as the Hare balloon. The Hounds followed in quick pursuit for a scenic flight over the lake and surrounding areas. Results of the brisk competition placed Dee Shapland from England in first place, Scott Nichol of Phoenix, Arizona. in second, Daryl McKee from New Zealand in third, local pilot Jodi Smith of Chino in fourth and Doug Spencer of San Diego, Ca. in fifth.
According to Tom Potter from San Bernardino County Regional Parks Department, attendance wasn't quite what they had hoped for but everyone walked away happy, including the sponsors. "I think we might back the date up by one week next year and add a balloon glow to Friday night's agenda. We are also thinking about having more tethered balloon rides," said Potter.
Located in the heart of Southern California, Prado Regional Park features lawns, lakes, camping, fishing and great water activities-a perfect setting for tranquil hot air balloon events.