Love reignited during hot air balloon festival

Hot air balloons have called Provo their home for the last 35 years. This event features a race in which balloons compete to reach the finish line while flying in the sky. (Addie Blacker)

The annual hot air balloon festival took place early in the morning on the Fourth of July — a tradition that has taken place for 35 years. This year was a little different. The balloons were unable to leave ground because of safety concerns. Because of a late start, the balloons had to share airspace with the Provo airport, as well as a parade. This roadblock did not give a detour to the theme, as love was still in the air, quite literally.

Beverly and Doug Cannon, owners of the “Lucky Star” balloon, went on their first date in a hot air balloon and have been flying for over thirty years. Mike Schrom, co-owner of “Tamo,” got into the sport because of a girlfriend he had in 1993 in Texas. David Vines and his wife Shari, owners of “Air Track,” went on a Valentine’s Day date in a hot air balloon and have been flying since 1980. Other balloonists shared similar stories, many saying they got into flying because of a first date.

David Vines and his wife Shari pose in front of their hot air balloon, “Air Track.” The two went on a valentine’s day ride years ago and have been balloon owners ever since. (Addie Blacker)

“We’ve been at this race for 35 years and have been flying since 1980,” Vines said. “My wife, her birthday is Valentine’s Day, and we had a race in Loveland, Sweetheart City. I bought her a ride, and we found some friends that we really liked, and we’ve been friends with them forever. They do ballooning as a lifestyle; we do it as a hobby. It was the first time she had been in a balloon.”

A story the Cannons shared paralleled this. They said they have been flying for 30 years and that the hobby began because of their first date.

The hobby for all three couples started because of love, and has stayed ignited because of the friendship and camaraderie within the hot air balloon community.

“The first ride is free. The next ride costs you $30,000 because you go out and buy a balloon,” Schrom said.

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