People swarm multi-purpose center for Hattiesburg Hot Air Balloon Festival
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - RISE kicked off its inaugural Hot Air Balloon Festival on Friday evening at the Forrest County Multi-purpose Center.
The organization will use the proceeds from this festival to help individuals become self-sufficient.
”The donations that we received this weekend will go towards putting those people into school for that year, and then also working with them towards helping them get those careers, not just jobs,” said RISE Executive Director Catherine Jorns. “It’s a hand up, not a handout, as we walk along beside them.”
Anticipation for this event was sky high, with the line forming to enter the festival more than an hour before gates opened.
Thousands of people came out for a chance to sit in or fly in the balloons.
Hot Air Balloon Pilot Frank Anger said a festival like this was how he got his start in flying.
“We had a festival in Tupelo, Mississippi, and I was in charge of the activities, and one of them was hot air balloons,” said Anger. “When he [the pilot] set up, he said, ‘Have you ever flown?’ I said, ‘no.’ He said to jump in and let’s go. I did that, and a week later, I was taking lessons at the delta.”
The weather dampened the first day, postponing the glow event, but day two is expected to bring in the masses.
“It never gets old,” said Anger. “We enjoy doing it because it draws a crowd wherever we go.”
“We’re so excited about this festival and what it’s going to do not just for RISE but for the whole community,” said Jorns. “We look forward to growing that and growing together in Hattiesburg and in our surrounding areas.”
Festivities for day two will last from 6 am until 9 pm.
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