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.
When autumn arrives, Rolling Acres opens its gates to visitors young and old to enjoy adventures among its various attractions. Birthday parties, field trips, and family outings descend upon the farm throughout the fall to explore the corn maze, which, in the past, has sent groups zigzagging through labyrinths shaped like an elephant, a lion, and a castle. Outside the maize maze, putters earn holes in one or 12 on the mini-golf course, and nearby, jumpers launch skyward on a giant jumping pillow. Aside from manufacturing smiles, Rolling Acres also produces and distributes alternative-fuel products.
The two screens of Tower Theaters host an eclectic cast of characters, from the flying superheroes of summer blockbusters to elaborately costumed opera singers. And 3-D technology propels many of them toward the audience with the vivid clarity of digital projection. The dancers and singers appear as part of a monthly opera and ballet series, which showcases stage productions such as Caravaggio or Die Fledermaus in digital HD. But on the first Saturday of every month, film and live performance combine with midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which a shadow cast poses in front of the screen to mirror the cult classic's plot and catch Tim Curry when he falls out.
Visiting The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center is a lot like stepping into a nature documentary. On guided tours, a knowledgeable narrator takes small groups on a journey to meet more than 200 creatures from across the world. They stop by the habitats of the black and white ruffed lemur, the western bobcat, and the spotted leopard. Along the way, guests learn a lot: for instance, that the Bennett's wallaby carries its young in a pouch, and that the critically-endangered cotton-top tamarin has lost more than 75% of its native habitat.
But in at least one way, the zoo accomplishes something that David Attenborough never could. Visitors can actually reach out and touch a creature during discovery programs. They can even adopt certain animals, perhaps helping provide tasty grasses and career guidance to a red kangaroo.
These programs exemplify the nonprofit zoo's dedication to wildlife education and awareness, something they hope to instill in their visitors from an early age. In the summer, educators spin "Animal Tales" for rapt young audiences and hold a Zoo Camp, where kids start to learn about diet and animal care. As kids' love of animals grows, the zoo invites them to volunteer as Crew in Training members. Once they hit college, students can become interns working on projects such as field studies of the patas monkey.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.
Minor league affiliates of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, the Falcons will be defending their icy fortress within the MassMutual Center as they look to vanquish their AHL foes with a barrage of slap shots and bone-rattling checks. Seasoned coach Rob Riley has his team primed on the ins and outs of goal blasting, frozen fisticuffs, and fine dining etiquette, so be prepared for an exciting contest of competitive stick wielding. With the Devils in their sights, the Falcons hope to pull together a late-season run of solid play and Jeopardy wins to close out their year.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.