By JOHNNY JASZCZUROWSKI, News3 Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – The Macomb Balloon Rally kicked off for its thirty sixth year with this year’s theme being a safari.
“We try to have a theme every year, and once we have the theme then we can, like when we had Blue Brothers we did a saxophone. Once we get the theme then we try and come up with a design. We do, it’s 200 feet on the grounds out there. We have what we call the mow crew and the rake crew. Because when you are mowing the grass gets very long and we’ve gotta rake that out of there so you can see the design,” said Al Reusch, Chairman of the Balloon Rally.
The race lasts only about 15-20 minutes. Dean Carlton was this year’s winner with Dan Reusch finishing in second, Kathy Reineke in third, and Darrell Day in 4th.
“We use it as a competition. In other words there’s mowed grass and then there’s unmowed grass. Like this year they had elephants that they threw in the mowed grass and then they just had a baggie they threw in the unmowed grass and so you measure each one and add them together and that’s your score for that target. Then we pay out money for first, second, and third so everyones competing. They’re trying to do the best they can,” said Reusch.
The event really means a lot to the Balloon Rally committee and to the Macomb community as well.
“Sponsoring a balloon and being apart of the committee 36 years ago has turned into a passion. We have this balloon family and we’ve traveled even out of the country to fly. We’ve been to Ireland and Puerto Rico to fly as well. You have such passion for it you really are obsessed almost. It means a lot. It means a lot to us. We think it means a lot to the community. It does,” said Evie Reusch, Chairman of the committee and Babs Becker the treasurer.
The Balloon Rally is already scheduled to return for the 37th year on September 8th and 9th. For more information follow the Macomb Balloon Rally on Facebook.