Imaginations, balloons soar at inaugural Freedom Balloon Festival
Posted May 22, 2015
Updated May 23, 2015
Zebulon, N.C. — A mass ascension of more than 40 balloons Friday evening kicked off the WRAL Freedom Balloon Festival, sending imaginations soaring high above the tree line at the Bennett Bunn Plantation in Zebulon.
Barbara Word said it was her first time seeing a hot air balloon.
"It was great," she said. "I have never seen so many balloons going up in the air, it was wonderful, different sizes, different names on them."
Tara Culbreth got her wish as the evening wrapped up with the balloon glow, and Kate Hurd called the experience "beautiful."
"It was absolutely beautiful, absolutely beautiful," Hurd said. "At dusk in Raleigh. I totally enjoyed it with my family."
Parking for WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest
A greater-than-expected early turnout for the WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest had people standing in line for more than an hour and walking alongside the highway in Zebulon Friday afternoon.
By 6:15 p.m., organizers had ceased transportation between Five County Stadium and Bennett Bunn Plantation, the main venue for the festival, and were urging those in line to stay at the stadium to watch the balloons fly overhead.
Between the time that the festival grounds opened at 3 p.m. and that time, those hoping to board the shuttle for the 10-minute transfer reported waits of an hour or more, and that buses were running only every 30 minutes.
Organizers said they would add shuttle buses for the rest of the event to accommodate the crowds.
In addition to shuttle busses, organizers said they would also work closely with Zebulon Police on crowd and traffic control.
Bennett Bunn Plantation in Zebulon
Park at the home of the Mudcats, Five County Stadium, 1501 N.C. Highway 39. Parking is $10 and proceeds go to The Raleigh Jaycees. There will be a shuttle running to the Bennett Bunn Plantation, which is about two miles away. Note: Shuttles will start at 6 a.m. Saturday through Monday so people can watch the balloon races.
There is limited on-site Premium Parking for $30/car (cash only) with a portion of proceeds going to The Raleigh Jaycees.
Spring Forest Road Park in Raleigh
Enjoy free park-and-ride shuttle service courtesy of Triangle Town Center and GoRaleigh Transit. Simply park near the entrance of the mall closest to Men's Wearhouse at Triangle Town Center. There's a GoRaleigh Bus shelter nearby.
All handicapped guests going to BBP should first go to Five County Stadium; if they have no ability to get on to a shuttle, they will be issued a $10 pass to park on-site at Bennett Bunn. Note: On-site parking is still not close to the activities. Attendees should plan accordingly to have assistance and take their time getting there.
If heading to Spring Forest Road Park, there is plenty of wheelchair accessible parking at Triangle Town Center for free. All Go Raleigh busses are wheelchair accessible. There is a paved surface surrounding the park.