Meadville Tribune

Local News

June 15, 2013

Thurston gets off the ground; more events to come

MEADVILLE — Spectators attending the 25th annual Thurston Classic Hot Air Balloon Event Friday evening saw the sponsor’s flight kick off to a rather unusual start — balloons took flight from individual locations beyond Allegheny College’s Robertson Field.

Wet, muddy conditions, like those that cancelled Thursday’s Night Glow, led the committee to scrap the usual mass-launch in favor of preserving the grounds as much as possible, according to Maury Sullivan, event director.

The Night Glow is tentatively rescheduled for tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Robertson Field.

“Conditions were not good enough (Thursday) night,” he said. “We hope that giving the field another day to dry will allow us to use the area (today).”

Nonetheless, a crowd of several hundred was treated to the sight of more than a dozen colorful balloons drifting through a clear blue sky.

The elephant-shaped balloon Pea-Nut made its anticipated debut Friday evening, launched to the collective cheers and chants of excited children.

“That’s got to be the cutest special shape I’ve ever seen,” said Ted Watts Sr., chair of the Thurston’s Operations Committee, addressing the applauding masses. “Get a picture, folks. That is incredible; a flying elephant.”

Pea-Nut and the multi-colored Day Dreamer were the only balloons launched from the field.

About 25 participating pilots were tasked with flying to the center of the field from their individual launch points and chasing Pea-Nut and Day Dreamer, according to Sullivan.

Trailing pilots threw streamers at targets in and around Robertson Field, with the closest one winning the event.

“It’s a good event for the community,” said Tammi Costello, First District Elementary School teacher and Thurston Classic volunteer. “School’s over, the kids get to come out and it’s a great way to kick off the summer.”

In return for their patronage, balloon sponsors from local businesses and families flew with their respective pilots.

While Thurston officials do not have an exact attendance count because the event was free, they agreed this year’s turnout was exceptional.

Watts hopes for an equally strong turnout for the maiden voyage of a newly-constructed gas balloon, rescheduled for about 6 or 7 a.m. today, he said. The balloon was originally scheduled to fly last Wednesday.

“It’s been a really good Friday crowd,” said Sandy Parker, committee member. “People have been very supportive.”

Parker, who helped operate the souvenier booth, will conclude at least seven years of service to the Thurston Classic after this weekend along with other long-time committee members like Lynn Nickerson.

“It’s been a good ride,” Nickerson said, working at the souvenier booth with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. “It’s been fun. It brings our whole family out.”

“The volunteers are a really, really great crew of people,” Parker said, “and we’re relieved to turn over the reigns.”

Increased donations and souvenier sales have helped the Thurston Classic thrive in recent years, according to Parker, who said some local sponsors struggled to support the event because of the economy last year.

“We more than made up for it in donations and sales,” she said. “We’ve expanded from T-shirts and pins. People go into the crowd and sell; we take donations at the gates. It’s really been a benefit.”

This year, Thurston officials added merchandise and clothing catering to younger children and toddlers specifically.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating to find things with hot air balloons on them,” Parker said. “Adding the elephant helped. It was fun this year to buy things that were different.”

One particular item of Thurston Classic significance, a hand-stitched quilt made and donated by committee members approximately 10 years ago, is up for silent auction.

“It’s a valuable piece of art,” said Parker, mentioning each of the detailed hot air balloons in the quilted squares were stitched by different people. “It was donated by (former) committee member Nancy Manning.”

The auction reportedly closes today at 6:30 p.m. Officials expect to announce the highest bidder shortly thereafter.

Thurston officials also expressed their excitement regarding their next attempt at kicking off the annual Night Glow, rescheduled to tonight due to wet conditions on Thursday.

“People would like that,” Costello said. “The Glow is a favorite here. Pea-Nut draws a big crowd, too.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Well inspectors trying to keep up during boom time

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 27, 2014

  • cycle Young stunt cyclist to bring show to 'Thunder'

    V-v-v-v-eroom! is the high-pitched whine from the Honda CBR 600 sport motorcycle as Steven Pilic rolls back the throttle and speeds down the asphalt. In one quick, smooth motion — just like you put one foot in front of the other — he shifts his weight forward on the handlebars, jumps from the bike’s foot pegs, lands his feet on the seat and pulls the 400-plus pounds of metal up onto its back wheel, using a combination of balance, brakes, clutch and speed to circle slowly at first and then faster and faster, tighter and tighter while doing a wheelie.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tornado watch issued for Crawford County

    The National Weather Service in Cleveland has issued a tornado watch for Crawford County.

     

    July 27, 2014

  • SUNDAY ISSUE: 'Free-range' parenting

    The case of a woman arrested after leaving her daughter at a park while she went to work is sparking discussion across South Carolina — and even the rest of the country.

    July 26, 2014

  • pymatuning History majors rule at Pioneer & Art Festival

    Those looking for living history exhibits at the 21st annual Pymatuning Pioneer & Art Festival weren’t disappointed Saturday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Organizers ready to stimulate Meadville with next weekend's Thunder in the City

    Started six years ago by Dave Stone, owner of Mickey’s Central Station, as an event to “increase commerce and stimulate the economy,” the annual Thunder in the City Classic Car and Motorcycle Show in Meadville has done that — and lots more.

    July 25, 2014

  • Conneautville celebrating 200 years

    Thursday was a relaxed opening day at the Conneautville Bicentennial Celebration, but things will get hopping today — literally. A frog jumping contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.

    July 25, 2014

  • PennDOT seeking outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Stabbing charges dismissed against Bloomfield woman

    A Bloomfield Township woman accused of stabbing her live-in companion last month is a free woman after the alleged victim in the case didn’t appear in court Wednesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • Guys Mills boy wins national PBS Kids Writers Contest

    July 24, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks