Tunes and Balloons enchants young, old

Telegraph correspondentMarch 16, 2012 

Cherry Blossom Festival patrons might remember the Tunes and Balloons event from past years as the Balloon Glow.

“We changed the name,” said Stacy Campbell, director of sales and marketing for the Cherry Blossom Festival. “We wanted to reflect the fact that the event is more than just the balloons. In fact, there will be live entertainment on the stage the entire evening. Campbell Airlines, a group from Warner Robins, will be on stage from 4 p.m. until the glow starts.”

During the afternoon, guests are encouraged to picnic with blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy the weather.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and spend time playing and relaxing and just having fun,” Campbell said. “Food and beverages can be purchased on site from Aramark, which will be providing a variety of selections. Also, people can bring their own food and drinks as well. We’re not permitting glass or pets, though.”

Children’s activities, including the ever popular inflatable jumpers, will be stationed around the area while workers set about spreading the balloons.

“There will be 15 or 16 full-sized hot aired balloons for the event,” Campbell said. “Guests can take rides in some balloons, which will be tethered the whole time, for $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger, provided they are accompanied by an adult. The balloon rides go up about 40 feet into the air and are always a favorite.”

In fact, this event is always a favorite for locals and tourists.

“Even though it is not a separate festival, Tunes and Balloons is the only hot air balloon show in Middle Georgia,” Campbell said. “It’s a component of the larger Cherry Blossom Festival, but it draws visitors from all over the region to see the hot air balloons.”

At dusk, estimated to be about 7:30 p.m., the tethered balloons start to glow.

“They glow for an hour, and it is truly beautiful. It’s absolutely breathtaking, in fact, and not an experience to be missed if you can help it,” Campbell said. “We are always excited to invite people to see this and this year, the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers will be playing once the glow starts. It’s an honor to have them play with us and I can only imagine how much more intense and memorable the experience will be.”

Last year, Campbell estimated between 8,500 and 10,000 people attended the event.

“Locals and tourists alike can’t help but be caught up in the magic of hot air balloons glowing in the dusk. It’s just beautiful and promises hope and fun,” Campbell said. “There is definitely a reason this is one of the favorite events of the entire festival. I hope everyone makes it out to see it for themselves.”

Cherry Blossom Festival Tunes and Balloons

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Macon State College, 100 College Station Drive

Information: 301-5470, www.cherryblossom.com

Cost: $5; children under 6 are free

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