Proudly claiming to be the first flying inverted elephant — standing on her front feet with hind legs boosted proudly in the air — Pea-Nut the Flying Elephant will appear this year at Meadville’s own Thurston Classic Hot Air Balloon Event.
Pea-Nut, who hails from the Scranton area and will celebrate her first birthday around the time this year’s Thurston rolls around, has only logged 20 hours of flying time so far, Thurston spokesperson Joyce Stevens told the Tribune Monday.
“Her only previous experience is Albuquerque,” Stevens said, referring to the world-famous hot-air balloon festival in the southwestern part of the country.
Pea-Nut will be flying in all scheduled Thurston races as well as taking part in the Glow that opens the annual event.
A Father’s Day Weekend tradition, the 2013 Thurston will kick off at 9:30 p.m. on June 13 with the Glow, followed by competitions on June 14, 15 and 16.
From its inaugural flight, which took place during the celebration of Meadville’s bicentennial back in 1988, the Thurston has grown over the years to include more than 30 balloons gathered from across the country.
All events, including the Glow, are free and open to the public. Donations are gratefully accepted.
Sponsorships start at $250, according to organizer Joyce Stevens, who notes that different levels of perks — including Friday-night hot air balloon rides — are attached to different sponsorship levels.
“We’ll be glad to talk to anyone who’s interested in a sponsorship and send them a sponsor packet for their review,” Stevens said, noting that the number to call is 336-4000 during normal business hours. For information about the Thurston, including details of the 2013 Classic as they become available, visit thurstonclassic.com.
Anyone wanting to make a donation, volunteer or become a sponsor should contact Stevens as soon as possible.
During the Glow, which takes place on the opening night of the Classic, balloons — including Pea-Nut — will remain tethered to the ground, inflated and illuminated from within by a special mix of fuel in the burners that ordinarily are responsible for sending them skyward.
You can learn about all the details of the 2013 Thurston Classic Hot Air Balloon Event as they become available online at thurstonclassic.com.