Tunes & Balloons caps Cherry Blossom Festival events

April 4, 2014 

Hopes for accommodating weather are one of the factors that pushed Cherry Blossom Festival organizers to schedule the Tunes & Balloons Fireworks Finale for this weekend at Middle Georgia State College.

ROGER PARSONS — For The Telegraph

A chance at better weather and a little breathing room for a packed Cherry Blossom Festival schedule means Macon’s “pinkest party on Earth” has one more curtain call.

The Tunes & Balloons Fireworks Finale, which includes hot air balloons, kids activities and live music, will take place Saturday at Middle Georgia State College. Gates open at 4 p.m.

Traditionally, this event has occurred the first weekend of the 10-day festival. Sean Pritchard, business manager for the festival, said there were a couple of factors that went into moving it.

“One, it always occurs on one of the busiest days of the festival, being that first Saturday,” he said. “We felt it had a lot of competition with other events and for such a large event with historic ties to the festival, we thought it best to be a stand-alone event.”

The other factor was weather. Bad weather and wind the past few years has meant the balloons were not able to inflate or launch and the weather has historically been better the weekend after the Cherry Blossom Festival.

“We haven’t been able to do the tether rides or morning ride over Macon,” Pritchard said. “It’s been two or three years since we’ve been able to do that because of wind. We have a better chance of nicer weather and for the public that attends the event, that had been one of the more frequent complaints: ‘We come to this event to see hot air balloons and we didn’t get to see hot air balloons.’ ”

If the good weather prediction holds, attendees will have a chance to see 10 hot air balloons, including one shaped like a football. The balloons also plan to ride over Macon early Saturday about 7:45-8 a.m., he said.

“And, weather permitting, tether rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Pritchard said.

Tickets for the rides will be sold at the event and are $10 per person. The rides will run until 9 p.m.

Tunes & Balloons also includes a kids area with six to eight inflatables. Children can purchase a $20 wristband for unlimited use or pay for individual rides.

“We also have entertainment from sunDollars, which is a local group that has played in the past at Bragg Jam and at previous Cherry Blossom Festival events,” Pritchard said. “And then from 8-9 p.m., the Middle Georgia State College Jazz Band will be playing.”

The college also will have its new recreation and wellness center open for tours as well as the Waddell Barnes Botanical Gardens.

The event will be capped off at 9 p.m. with a fireworks finale.

The event is picnic friendly but organizers are asking those in attendance to refrain from bringing glass bottles or pets.

“There will be a variety of food vendors,” Pritchard said. “Last year, we had everything from sushi to hamburgers.”

There are four entry gates to the campus but people are asked to come in the main gate off Eisenhower Parkway. There will be shuttles from the parking to the event.

“We always encourage people to carpool,” Pritchard said. “(The trams) will be running internally all over the campus, so if you park far away, they will pick you up and take you to the event.”

Tunes and Balloons Fireworks Finale

When: 4-9 p.m. April 5

Where: Middle Georgia State College, 100 College Station Drive

Cost: $5 per person, free for children age 6 and younger

Information: www.cherryblossom.com

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