Oak Grove Primary hosts hot air balloon team

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
gfischer@weeklycitizen.com

Last year, Joel Sturdevant, who flies the RE/MAX hot air balloon, escorted the Weekly Citizen/The Chief high into the sky. Today, he gave a balloon demonstration to students at Oak Grove in Prairieville.

RE/MAX Agent Dana Hedrick is responsible for the event, according to owner Patricia Anderson of RE/MAX in Prairieville, located at 16581 Airline Highway.

"Were it not for Dana who spent several months putting this whole thing together and RE/MAX PLUS, there would've been no event at all," Anderson said.

The primary school, which holds a thousand or so students, emptied onto the field just beyond where kids enjoy recess. Today was special though. Many children got to see an enormous hot air balloon take flight from start to, well, start. Sturdevant was tethered, meaning his rope only let him lift above ground about 20 feet.

"This was the first time we've done this," Oak Grove Principle Eve Frederic said.

During the inflation of the balloon students were chanting "Blow--It--Up! Blow--It--Up!" Once it was fully inflated they changed their chant to "Let--It-Fly! Let--It--Fly!"

Imagine a thousand children screaming in excitement when Sturdevant fired the burners. They were facing a 90,000 cubic-foot balloon. That means 90,000 basketballs could fit inside, according to Sturdevant.

If this is any indication of what's to come at this weekend's Hot Air Balloon Festival in Gonzales, it should make for a child's dream come true.

Once Sturdevant came down, the fourth and fifth grade students gathered around the basket for a Q & A session about balloon flying. Sturdevant gave a little of the science and history behind the craft and even a little course in civics.

"This ballon is a registered aircraft with the United States," he said.

For more info on the Hot Air Balloon Festival, which begins tomorrow, visit ascensionballooning.com. RE/MAX PLUS in Prairieville may be contacted at 225-744-4663.