Monday, September 22, 2008

balloon glow

Otherwise entitled, The Night of Chaos.

It all began with my mistake in thinking we could quickly stop by our elementary school's family bbq night and still get to Forest Park in any decent amount of time to enjoy ourselves in the warm glow of the balloons. Silly me.

We didn't get on the road until 6:30. The balloon event was technically from 7-9, but knowing how crowded it was going to be we were hoping to be there much much earlier. And crowded it was. Traffic was a mess, parking was insane; when we finally got to the park and decades later found a spot to park, we had a 20 minute (speedwalking) trek on foot to where the balloons were, putting us at an arrival time of after 8pm. Insanity I'm telling you.

And it didn't stop with our rush to get there. The place was packed. Ryan and I got separated twice before we even got up the hill to the actual balloons. He was pushing the stroller and this guy is nothing but On A Mission with stroller in hand. He's a fast walker regardless, but if you put a stroller in front of him it seems to amp him up tenfold. So considering I had a small child walking in hand, I had no hope of keeping up with him. I wasn't too concerned knowing we both had our cell phones, and Savannah and I found the boys without having to resort to a phone call, but it was a sea of people. When we finally got to the balloon grounds, Sawyer wanted to walk with me and Savannah happily traded off and hopped into the stroller for a break. And they were off again. All I heard was Energizer Bunny Balloon, and then pretty much watched my husband and daughter get smaller and smaller in the distance ahead of us.

No big deal, I thought, and tried to take advantage of some random space in the crowd to take some pictures of the balloons. So picture this: I have a toddler, no stroller. Swarms of people around me. It's dark. Balloons are everywhere. BUT. They randomly blast their burners to light them up (and keep them inflated) which simultaneously makes it difficult to take pictures as when and where the brighter light is is always changing, as well as these bursts freaking out said toddler when they would roar too close to us. They're loud. And hot. Walking through the sea of balloons was a little like walking through the Fire Swamp in the Princess Bride with the flame spurts... you never knew when they would blast and which direction it would come from!
We would walk for a minute looking at balloons and looking for the other half of our family, and then I'd stop to try and take some pictures of the dozens and dozens of balloons around us. But taking pictures requires two hands and I had a toddler with me that a)I was worried about wandering off while my eye was in my camera, and b)was just plain worried that he would get swept up in the sea of people all around us. He did a pretty good job keeping himself wrapped around my leg, but needless to say I didn't get much of a chance to experiment with what could have been gorgeous night time shots of the balloons glowing. Most of them ended up looking like this:

Here are the couple of shots I did get to come out okay that weren't make-you-nauseous-blurry or blown out or dark when nothing was lit up:

So many balloons....

So many people...

Meanwhile, Sawyer and I made our way over to the energizer bunny and walked around the immediate area looking for Ryan and Savannah for probably a full thirty minutes. Oh, and guess what? Our phones weren't working. I don't know if it was just the sheer number of people in the area, or if something was really wrong with our service, but I couldn't make a phone call to save my life. Texts wouldn't go through either.

By now Sawyer was whining at me (it's 9 o'clock by then) and one by one all the balloons were taken down. We finally planted ourselves on the grass behind the Goldfish balloon (Sawyer's favorite), watched them let it down and disassemble it (Sawyer helped them "blow" it down), and then got ready for the fireworks, all the while dialing and redialing our other half. Finally midway through the fireworks, we connected and they eventually found us just in time for the grand finale.
So much for our family togetherness night!
It was really fun, in a crazy chaotic way. The balloons were very cool and I loved how up close we could get, climbing into the baskets and helping them blast their burners and such. And they're just so big!!

Oh yeah, and remember how I wanted to have fun and experiment with shots of fireworks in the night sky?? Not gonna happen when you have a toddler on your lap by yourself in a crowded field and you're redialing your cell phone every other minute. I got one decent one... after Savannah and Ryan found us and sat down just in time for the finale!!


Note to self for next year:
How about making the night glow a romantic afternoon/evening in the park for just the two grown-ups so you can meander through the balloons easiliy, experiment with your camera and enjoy the fireworks sipping in the beer garden. Then take the kids back the next day for the races and other fun stuff...


jenny said...

even though it was a night of chaos, it looked like so much fun! i wish there was something like that we could go to! i like all your pictures! oh, and you should think about getting a tracking device on that hubby of yours! :)

K.M.L said...

Even though it was chaotic, it still looked like fun!!! Sorry we missed you guys that night. :)

MIke Malone said...

Our balloon glow consisted of seeing the balloons for like 45 minutes (after 45 minutes to get there) and then getting grumpy...kind of hard with 15 month old. Sorry we missed you

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