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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

THE PILOT EDITORIAL - Muscle behind Balloon Days

Thursday, September 6, 2001

We hope you noticed the people behind those sunshine yellow shirts around the airport this weekend.

They are not many, and yet they seem to manage to be everywhere - making flying tackles to help catch hot air balloons coming in too fast, taking care of the singing group and other entertainers, monitoring weather, dealing with a snarl of traffic, making sure events and information flowed smoothly, solving problems before they could develop, ensuring safety, greeting and keeping the people happy even when conditions ground the main attraction, racing around the countryside on rural relations, and just generally working like crazy from before dawn until well after dark for the cause of The Great Iowa Balloon Races.

For over two decades now, local volunteers have been the muscle behind the magic. If a balloon flight looks serene and effortless, it isn't - it takes months and months of dedication and tireless work to bring everything off as delightfully as it went last weekend.

As much as we thank the pilots, the corporate sponsors and the professionals of all kinds who help this event, they could not do it without the volunteer commitment.

Balloon Days is one of the most colorful, crowd-friendly events in the state. The pilots come back year after year to share in the love affair between Storm Lake and ballooning. A big part of that is the energetic, ever-changing band of committee members who always seem to pop up exactly where they are needed most.

When people ask where the future leaders of the community are coming from, you don't have to look farther than Balloon Days. Somehow, this labor of love seems to bring out the younger individuals and often couples, trading their own time and energy so that their neighbors and visitors can have a ball.

Trust us, on the Labor Day holiday, those people in the yellow shirts were laboring - but always with a smile.

It wouldn't matter if not a single balloon were able to get off the ground.

Balloon Days sails into its third decade as one of Iowa's great modern traditions. We thank those who work so hard behind the scenes to help make it so.