“Holy Benadryl!” joked a member of the Coca-Cola hot air balloon’s chase team Thursday morning, chuckling as children dashed in circles squealing and shouting.
Welcome to Garfield Elementary! When the balloon I was in touched down on the grassy area behind the Boise school around 8:15 a.m., it triggered utter kid chaos. Smiling teachers helped herd the thrilled kids, who scattered as two more hot air balloons dropped gently to the field minutes later.
After landing, pilots stayed in their baskets and answered questions. They kept the grounded vessels inflated, unleashing roaring blasts of flaming fuel while kids crowded around and gasped.
“Can you roast a marshmallow in there?” a boy wondered. (Probably, I told him, but it might drip on your head.)
“Do you have any Coke?” asked another. (Oops. We forgot the cooler!)
“Can I get in the basket?” begged one girl. (Um … no, good-natured pilot Laurie Spencer had to answer. With the balloon not tethered to the ground, it's a liability issue, says Spencer, who operates Lighter Than Air America with her husband Scott.)
The second day of the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic was pure fun for pilots, passengers (translation: lucky media members) and folks who just showed up to watch. About 30 balloons rose slowly from Ann Morrison Park — unlike opening day on Wednesday, when the launch was cancelled by event director Scott Spencer because of weather technology problems.
The hot air balloon festival will continue Friday through Sunday, filling the air with color and drifting sailors of the sky.