For the 32nd time, more than 100 balloons add their colors to the sky during the festival grounds during the weekend-long QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning. The balloons take flight during five mass ascensions at dawn and dusk. But that isn't the weekend's only entertainment. There's also vendors and arts-and-crafts, thrill acts, and family entertainment galore. Outdoor stages also host hard-rocking performances by America, 3 Doors Down, and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, as well as pop rock band Hot Chelle Rae.
For the past 34 years, Soaring Adventures of America, which boasts an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, has presented earth-bound clients a variety of ways to explore the skies. Their balloon rides take crews of up to four on a peaceful journey to heights as high as 2,000 feet in the air, capped off with a champagne or fruit juice toast. The pilots are FAA commercially certified, and the balloons are inspected for every 100 hours of flight to ensure a safe experience.
Partnered with a ground crew predominately made up of fellow pilots, Dick Guisto, Mike Florio, and Vinnie Melling harness their commercial-pilot expertise for each Aerostat Promotions flight. After a half-hour of balloon inflation and preparation, up to four guests join their pilot at sunrise or 2.5 hours before sunset for an hour-long flight that affords aerial views of the Pioneer Valley’s breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and residential homes. Meanwhile, a chase team tracks the balloon from terra firma as it traverses approximately 10 miles of sky. Once visitors and their pilot rendezvous with the team, balloons are packed into a truck or twisted into to-scale elephant balloon animals before the group shares a champagne toast and appetizers.