There is a local organization, Hunter’s Autism Specials, whose goal is: to provide unique products /services for families and businesses in the efforts of becoming more unified society under the Autism umbrella. Here are some of their services:
- Autism related products to show your support and dedication towards awareness. (*They sell these Autism flags that we fly during April for Autism Awareness Month.)
- Discounts from businesses so that you and your family might be able to attend and experience.
- Reviews from us on local businesses that might help you plan your next family outing.
Anywho, Hunter’s Autism Specials worked with the folks at InTouch Credit Union (the sponsors of this year’s Plano Balloon Festival) to procure tickets for a select number of autism families to attend the balloon festival. We were super excited to be one of the families who were gifted with tickets!! Not only did we each get a free ticket ($5X4), they also included free parking ($10). So kind and generous of them!
We attended the festival about four years ago. It was crowded, we had two little kiddos, AND the balloons didn’t even launch due to the winds. My husband doesn’t love sitting in and fighting traffic, so it took several years and free tickets to motivate him to give it another whirl. Over the years, we’ve learned that it is quite common for the hot-air balloons not to be able to launch due to winds. That’s kind of a bummer.
Many people feel the Plano Balloon Festival is too crowded and not worth it, and recommend the Celina Balloon Festival instead. We had free tickets, so we were headed to Plano. I asked for tips on Facebook, and here’s some of what I received:
- stay for “the glow” (after the sun sets, they do countdowns for the balloons to light up)
- bring blankets to sit on
- get there early
We weren’t able to get there early, because my husband worked till 5PM. He finished work and we went to grab dinner. The restaurant was about 3 miles from the event location and it took us about 25 minutes to drive those 3 miles. I wasn’t at the wheel, so I was fine and dandy scrolling through Facebook. Our parking pass allowed us to park in the VIP section which was about 100 yards from the entrance. Nice! Here is a picture of our van. You can see the entrance in the center of the photo.
We arrived at 6:15. The balloons were scheduled to launch at 6PM, but they were not able to due to the wind. SO wish they would’ve launched. Camden kept asking, “hot air balloons up in the air.” No dice. Glad we didn’t miss it though. I would’ve been kicking myself. Next thing on the schedule was a concert starting at 7PM. We found our way to Spectator Hill and spread out our quilt. It wasn’t too crowded, and certainly by spreading out our blanket, it gave us some nice boundary markers. We knew we wanted to stay for “the glow” at 8PM, so we just let the boys play on their iPads and chill till close to time for “the glow.” Here’s a panoramic from Spectator Hill. We had a lovely view of the port-a-potties. The concert stage was in the background on the left. The food/vendor booths and the kids play area ($20 for unlimited play) were all in that same vicinity. It was really packed down there. We had no desire to step in to that. Instead, we enjoyed the shade on the hill, munched on our fruit, and had some riveting family time on our devices (lame, I know).
Here we are during the concert. I enjoyed the music. My hubby is picky about his tunes, so he had a different opinion. Both of our little guys are sound sensitive so we brought noise-cancelling headphones. Camden had his IPad headphones on and was fine. Carson didn’t really need them either. From where we were sitting it wasn’t bad.
Here’s a view of my guys on Spectator Hill. The crowds were growing, but it wasn’t bad. We shut off our devices about 20 minutes before “the glow.” It was fun seeing the crews get the balloons unloaded and set up. To me, it didn’t really look like there were that many balloons during set-up, but after they inflated there were a lot. There were almost 40 balloons.
The glow lasted about 30 minutes. The deejay would have the crowd countdown to “twinkle lights” (where the flames of the balloons would flicker) or “all burn” (where the balloons would keep their fire burning bright). I thought it was really neat. The boys did too.
Any time my boys are enjoying themselves, smiling and having a good time, I am in my happy place. My husband was on the verge of miserable with his allergies, so that was the pits. He was a bit confused on why I would make him sit in crazy traffic and sit him in the grass while he scratched his eyeballs out. For the kids, Love. Although Camden has horrible allergies as well, he was giddy and loved the event. Here’s an amazing view of the back of my boys’ heads during the glow. 😉
So…I loved the event. I think it would have been REALLY great if the balloons had launched at 6PM. My husband enjoyed it and would’ve enjoyed it way more if we could’ve teleported in and if he wasn’t feeling horrible. Looks like we are on a 4-year attendance rotation to the Plano Balloon Festival, so perhaps I’ll report back in 2019.
BIG thanks again to Hunter’s Autism Specials and InTouch Credit Union for a great night of memory-making for our family! And YAY that thanks to the free tickets, I didn’t have to hear my husband say anything about being out $30. YAY!
For those of you have attended the Plano or Celina Balloon Festivals, I’d sure love to hear your thoughts!