Pre-dawn darkness fills the landscape as far as the eye can see. After a few minutes, we begin to faintly recognize human shadows scurrying about. They work efficiently in virtual silence, each with their own unique role to play in the greater mission.
Their first task is to run out long ropes from a central point, strategically placing them in a yet unknown pattern. At once, the team regroups quickly unfolds a massive flat shape, seeming to measure a 100′ or more in length. After a brief pause, the silence of the morning is broken by a loud, simple motor, similar in sound to a lawnmower. As we approach the distant noise, we see it is powering a large fan. Two of the team members hold a giant opening in the massive flat shadow, allowing the fan to forcably pack air inside. During the roughly 10 minute run, the now trapped air pushes against the internal walls of the massive, growing shape.
Eventually, all hands give a sign of agreement and a faint smell of propane fils the immediate area. In an instant, a powerful flame shoots inside the opening of the growing giant. The heat is enormous and only adds to the humid Florida morning. Within a couple of minutes the giant object has taken shape. In one quick motion it is effortlessly tipped upright. Our excitement is great as we just witnessed the birth of a mountainous hot air balloon!
One by one, more of these towering giants stand at attention, gently flowing side to side with the soft morning breeze. Some are in a traditional balloon shape while others form uniquely creative characters. As dawn approaches, the glow from the burners fills the enormous structures. Rich blues, yellows and oranges of the impending sunrise add an incredible backdrop to the scene building right before our eyes. Memories of the 330A wakeup alarm were now long gone and replaced with the wonderment of a truly perfect morning.
This event is named Balloons over Paradise; a truly fitting name indeed! We will definitely plan to attend again in 2016!
Photo Stuff: Single frame, Processed in LR, Topaz Clarity and Topaz Adjust
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