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High spirits, grounded balloons at Memorial weekend event

The event is part of several Memorial Day holiday weekend events involving Patriotic Productions.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 10:49 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Memorial Day weekend festivities always seem to come with a caveat: weather permitting.

Friday morning, the world’s largest American flag balloon made its way to Baxter Arena for tonight’s big kick-off event.

They call it a balloon glow, the balloons standing up in hot air, fans able to get up close and personal. In this case, six fancy flyers from Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Omaha were all set to delight the hundreds gathered for a Memorial weekend lift-off. Alas, too much wind grounded the balloons.

“Mother Nature controls what we do and right now she’s not very nice to us,” said Indianola’s Jim Gebhart, a balloon pilot and one of the organizers of the Balloon Glow. “I’m here for the spectators, we get just as bummed as everybody else if we don’t get to put air in these and stand ‘em up.”

They did burn off some fuel to the delight of onlookers, who seemed to understand since there’s something else in the air that this night is about anyway.

It’s an opening note to begin the weekend memorializing those who died while serving, and those who stood alongside the women and men protecting their country, the Gold Star Families.

”We just wanted to come out here and let the Gold Star Families know that we have not forgotten their loved ones, and their sacrifices were not made in vain,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who along with his wife visited with several Gold Star family members. “And it’s because of their sacrifices we have this great country.”

“Gold Star Wives was started by Eleanor Roosevelt, then they got Gold Star Families, Gold Star Moms,” said Gold Star Wife Rita P. Gardner. “What do I get out of it? Sisterhood with all the women (who) have lost their husbands.”

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