June 29, 2011 | No Comments
height=”225″ />The Force is strong with this one.
While each of the approximately 25 hot air balloons at the Freedom Festival’s annual Balloon Fest in Provo is unique, one in particular this year will have both children and adults flocking to the dark side.
At 86 feet high and 69 feet wide, weighing a whopping 640 pounds, the world famous Darth Vader hot air balloon will make its debut flight over Utah Valley on the first morning of the Balloon Fest—Friday, July 1 at 6:30 a.m. Lord Vader will also take flight on Saturday, July 2, and Monday, July 4. The Balloon Fest takes place from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. at Bulldog Field, located at 1100 North Freedom Boulevard.
The evil Sith lord is already making quite a stir in quiet Provo.
“Vader’s arrival is definitely generating some buzz around the community,” said Bill Talbot, chairperson of the event. “We normally get about 10,000 spectators at Balloon Fest on Fridays, with up to 30,000 people coming on days over the weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised
if many more people showed up this year.”
Several Imperial Stormtroopers are also expected to appear at the Balloon Fest to witness Lord Vader’s flight. A large contingent of Stormtroopers will march in the Grand Parade in Provo on July 4.
And though the Freedom Festival’s annual Balloon Fest is insignificant next to the power of the Force, the event is as popular as ever after 27 years of family fun.
“Since the summer of 1985, my volunteer committee and I have worked hard to make the Balloon Fest a special event,” said Talbot. “Most of our hot air balloon pilots have been with us all 27 years. We’ve given our hearts to this event. It’s a great privilege.”
The Vader balloon was the brainchild of Lambert Benoit, a Star Wars fan living in Belgium. He had the balloon manufactured in 2007 with the express approval of Lucasfilm.
“We’re excited to be coming to Provo,” said Benoit. “This will be our first time bringing the balloon to an Independence Day festival in America. Everywhere we go, people adore the Darth Vader balloon. We think we’ll see the same reaction in Utah.”
The Darth Vader balloon comes to Provo thanks
to Digicert, a Utah-based digital certification company. The Coca-Cola Company is also sponsoring the arrival of its giant bottle-shaped balloon. Many other unique and impressive hot air balloons will fill the sky during the July 4th weekend. Spectators can watch hot air balloon pilots participate in various games during the event, such as dropping bean bags on targets on the field below.
Families are encouraged to walk around Bulldog Field as hot air balloons inflate, take off and land around them. The Balloon Fest is free to the public.
“We can’t wait to be part of the festivities,” said Benoit. “The force will be with Provo soon.”