Monday, September 17, 2007
The St. Louis Balloon Race
Some of the best memories come from events you don't plan, or decide to go at the last minute. This Saturday we decided at the last minute to try to catch the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, where over 60 hot air balloons compete. The race starts with the Energizer Bunny taking off, then 15 minutes later all others "chase" the bunny. (on a side note, St. Louisans embrace product placement in every possible way - among the balloons was a giant Ryder truck as well as Pepsi and Alpo cans - and see no irony or danger in the fact that kids' sports programs are sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. I'm sure I'll have a whole post on this later.) Wherever the bunny lands a couple hours later, officials will mark a large X, and the other balloons, "hounds," will drop a bean bag, trying to get closest to the middle of the X. We knew both girls would love to see the balloons, but doubted that we could even find a parking space near the park. So we decided to become hounds ourselves, and watch from the car as the bunny took off, driving around town as we followed it.
Just getting close to the park was nearly impossible. The rest of St. Louis wanted to be there and most of the roads were closed. We managed to get food nearby but when the time for the bunny to take off came and went without any sign of the balloons, we began to worry that if the race was running late we wouldn't have time to follow it. Circling the park, we began to see giant pink ears poke out through the trees, and soon the bunny was up. Of course, Clara was beside herself. A flying bunny!
Following the bunny for a couple of blocks, we wound through a small neighborhood and stumbled upon a small park, perfect for having a picnic as we watched the "hounds" fly overhead. Kate backed herself into my lap and Clara sat with Megan as we all pointed at the balloons we saw. The pictures will give you some idea of the kind of day it was. When it came time to go home, Clara asked if the bunny could fly over her house. We said we'd ask, but we didn't think the wind was blowing that direction.