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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pirates Of The Canyon balloon rally debuts flying shoe

AMARILLO — This year’s Pirates of the Canyon balloon rally will see the official Amarillo debut of the first special-shape balloon that will call the city home.
Pirates organizer Chris Jones purchased the Old Lady in the Shoe last year and got her flight-ready in the spring. He flew her at the recent Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta but, outside a brief test flight, he plans to have the Old Lady officially make her bow at this weekend’s seventh-annual Pirates rally.
Balloonists will be at John S. Stiff Memorial Park, 45th Avenue and Bell Street, for a variety of activities on Friday and Saturday before closing out the weekend with a mass sunrise ascension Sunday at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
At 147 feet tall, the old gal and her big boot are about two times taller than most special-shape balloons, Jones said, and she weighs about 1,000 pounds, four times the weight of most of her peers.
“She’s got a lot of air in her,” Jones said. “One of our goals is to figure out what size bra she would wear.”
The balloon also features 12 children, including one on the roof of the boot who moons the crowd and one who’s hanging on for dear life from a shoelace.
“She’s definitely a conversation piece,” Jones said.
The Old Lady is a challenge to fly, he said.
“When she gets in different layers of wind, she’ll spin like a top,” Jones said. “It gets dizzying.”
The weekend’s activities kick off at 6 p.m. Friday with a balloon glow around McDonald Lake at Stiff Park. Balloonists are scheduled to take part in a mass sunrise ascension from the park at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
Activities on Saturday continue through 4 p.m., including food vendors, demonstrations from Amarillo Radio Kontrol Society and Flying Dutchman Boat Club, and tethered balloon rides. Balloons will launch around 3:30 p.m. following trick-or-treating for children at 2 p.m.
The rally ends with the planned sunrise ascension at the canyon.

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