Balloon Glow lights up the Navajo Nation
By Glenda Rae Davis
WINDOW ROCK, September 13, 2012
(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)
A s the sunset colored the sky different shades of yellow and the Ferris Wheel, Zipper and other carnival rides lit up, hot air balloon pilots ignited their burners during the "Balloon Glow".
The Balloon Glow event was the first of its kind as part of the Navajo Nation Fair festivities on Friday and Saturday. The event also included a performance by Joe Tohonnie Jr. and the Apache Crown Dancers.
"Our biggest goal was to show fairgoers the ballooning sport," said Geri Hongeva-Camarillo, media representative for Navajo Parks and Recreation and coordinator of the balloon event. "We received nothing but positive reviews."
The event was scheduled as a two-day event but due to 12 miles per hour winds on Saturday, the event was cancelled.
"When it comes to ballooning you should always expect a cancellation," Hongeva-Camarillo said. "You have to work with the weather. I believe that the one night was enough to get community interest."
Walking among the crowd Friday night was Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim.
"It's beautiful, very colorful. They both look like a rainbow," said Jim. "The balloons allow you to have a closer look at Mother Earth. When you're able to ride in one you have the opportunity to look down and around at how beautiful our nation is."
From dignitaries like Jim to adults and children, the crowd for the event was diverse. Roughly 80 to 100 people attended the glow.
For St. Michaels, Ariz. resident Leticia Ashley, being at the glow with her sisters and nieces was something she was looking forward to.
"The whole event was awesome," said Ashley as the event came to an end. "I took one of my nieces to a balloon launch in Gallup and we really loved it. Now that they have it here I think I'll come back every year."
Ashley said that the event being free was also the reason she decided to attend.
"We were going to go to the hip-hop dance but this was free and I think it was certainly better," she said.
Hongeva-Camarillo said her office was working on a "zero budget" but was able to get all the pilots to donate their time, requested for free propane from Ferrellgas and got two local families to volunteer to be a part of the pilots chase crews.
"It's a great honor and feeling. It's Fair-tastic," said pilot Bill Lee of Gallup, N.M. "What I'd like to know is how great it looks from the Ferris Wheel. I'm just hoping everyone enjoys the show."
"We want to be active in the community," said Ferrellgas general manager Ryan Claw. "We fully support Parks and Recreation and we are supplying propane for the entire weekend."