Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — The WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest attracted thousands of visitors this weekend, but baskets never made it off the ground Sunday morning.
Thunder and drizzle kept the hot air balloon flights grounded early Sunday and the risk of severe weather threatened to cancel the mass ascension and glow session scheduled for the evening.
“As pilots of balloons, the weather is still our supreme boss and we have to respect that,” said Tom Lattin.
Jean and Doug Clark were disappointed their daughter, Avery, didn’t get to see the big balloons, but donuts and a little sizzle may have ignited just enough excitement.
“We were really excited to see the balloons and this is our first time at the event,” Jean Clark said.
Jack Gelm, 17, who is working to obtain his pilot’s license, was just happy to be at the event.
“I love the freedom of it. There is just one axis of motion and you can just get carried by the wind. It’s just a whole different side of it,” Gelm said.
While the balloons fire people up, the festival’s Field of Flags helps ground people to the true meaning of Memorial Day.
The Harris family came dressed to pay their respects.
“We try to explain that to them, the importance, and the whole reason for this holiday, soldiers- ones passed and the ones serving now,” said visitor Sherri Harris.
For a $3 donation, people can place a flag in honor of the fallen. The flags will be placed on the graves of veterans at the end of the festival and the money supports a scholarship fund.
“Lots of places around the world don’t have the freedoms that we have and so I take to honor and respect those who have gone before us,” said visitor Todd Neal.