Hot Air Balloons are Awesome!
Hot air balloons are fascinating! My wife Janet and I have always enjoyed The Great Forest Park Balloon Race. Seldom do you see a single hot air balloon, much less over 70 hot air balloons in one place. The event is fun and unique!
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is an annual hot air balloon festival held in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. The race boasts more than 70 entrants and 130,000 spectators. It is the most well-attended single-day hot air balloon race in the United States. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race was founded by renowned balloonists Nikki Caplan and John O’Toole in 1973. It was later taken over by four, young, enthusiastic balloonists: John Marlow, John Schaumburg, Dan Schettler and Ted Staley in 1977. Four newly certified balloonists and a whimsical group dubbed the Mississippi River Balloon Transit Company started created the race. Today it hails as the organization of the most well-attended, single-day balloon race in the country.
The race is unique in that it originates from the middle of a major city, St. Louis. Attendance is free to more than 150,000 spectators who come out to watch 70 world-class balloon pilots compete. During the race, the balloonists attempt to “chase” a 166-foot balloon of a pink bunny (The Energizer Bunny Balloon). The race takes off from the Central Fields in Forest Park.
Lighting Up the Hot Air Balloons
The hot air balloons participate in the Balloon Glow the evening before the race. This event allows spectators to walk among inflated balloons illuminated by their burners. In the darkness of the night, crowds of people pass through the field filled with hot air balloons anchored to the ground. They anxiously wait for them to burst into a lighted and glowing picture of stunning beauty.
Throughout the evening, at intervals of somewhere around 5 to ten minutes, a loud horn is sounded. This is a signal to the balloon pilots to fire up their balloons. Seeing over 70 hot air balloons suddenly lighting up to pierce through the darkness is something of breath-taking beauty. Just for a few moments, it makes everyone forget that they are walking through a crowd in the dark. Somehow it makes onlookers forget the problems of the day as they bask in the beauty of the massive glowing hot air balloons.
Hot Air Balloons, Glowing, and Life
My wife and I decided that we would not miss the Balloon Glow this year. As we walked among the hot air balloons through the dense crowd of people, a thought occurred to me. How much was this like life? Something stirred within my spirit and spoke a message to me.
We walk through a world full of people wandering through the dark in search of something of true beauty. People are looking for something or someone to help them forget the darkness for a moment. They long to forget their troubles and problems momentarily, and focus on the beauty at hand.
As I reflected on what I was seeing among the lighted balloons, I remembered a passage of scripture from the Bible. It brought the “Balloon Glow” experience into a perspective. In the Living Bible Translation of Matthew the 5th chapter, the wording is very applicable to what I saw. In that passage of scripture it says, “You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” ( Matthew 5:14-16 Living Bible) Wow! We as a body of believers in Christ are to be a “city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see”. We are to “let our good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise our heavenly Father.”
Our Lives Should Glow Like the Hot Air Balloons
Now let me bring this home to you and I. Every day multitudes of people on a daily basis are wandering through the dark. Many are just waiting for a sudden burst of light and hope. There are people who are sinking in the oceans of despair, depression, addictions, and hopelessness. We have to be the burst of light and beauty for them. Just as the hot air balloons are connected to propane, we must be connected to God. By doing so, the glowing flames of our life can be seen.
As we stay connected to God, we will periodically burst into a glowing representation of God’s light and grace to a lost and dying world. We all have friends, family members, and co-workers that are waiting for something of beauty. They are waiting for something or someone to permeate the darkness of their life and restore their. All of us are dependent upon the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Without him, there truly is no hope.
Christ is the Light of the World
Jesus said He came to give us life and to give it to us more abundantly! Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (New Living Translation) We can be vessels that radiate the glowing light and grace of Christ to a world that is desperately seeking a message of hope.
Something as unexpected as a hot air balloon can remind you of what you were really called to do. We are all called to be a “glow” of God’s love, mercy, and grace. People are walking around waiting for the glow of God’s love to burst forth into their lives. What are you waiting for? Fire up the balloon!
Thanks for reading,
Until next time,