North Carolina

 

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O#37: Statesville, North Carolina
OOctober 27, 2007

 

Statesville, North Carolina was originally called the Fourth Creek Congregation by its Scots-Irish Presbyterian settlers, changing its name to Statesville when it became the seat of Iredell County in the late 1700's. During the Civil War, Statesville was briefly occupied by Union raiders, and for a few weeks at the end of the war became the capital of North Carolina when Governor Zebulon Vance fled there from Raleigh.



Today Statesville is a town of about 23,000 people, located at the crossing of I-40 and I-77. There's an interesting downtown area with some beautiful older houses, and off I-40 there's a modern commercial area with one of every kind of franchise and big box store.According to Wikipedia, Statesville is home to the world's largest Bojangles' chicken restaurant. Lowe's Home Improvement stores have their national headquarters in nearby Mooresville.


 

A hot-air balloon festival was first held in the Statesville area in 1974. This event was originally called the National Balloon Rally, and has continued over the years at different locations both in and out of Statesville proper. In October 2007, I was invited by Executive Director Marsha Treacy to fly at the 34th such rally, now known as the Carolina Balloon Fest, and located at the Statesville Regional Airport.

 

Joining me as my crew chiefs were Gary and Carol Weed of Lyme, Connecticut. Gary and Carol had crewed for me several times before up in New England. We enjoyed the festival's opening day hospitality, which included for each ballonist a plastic gallon jug of scuppernong wine, which is a very sweet muscadine wine that is produced in the area.

 

Gary and Carol were assisted by Jay Pharr, a young man fireman from Statesville, and Ben Burbridge, a balloonist from Florida. Ben was something of a character, in a Southern vein. He told Gary and Carol they were nice folks, for Yankees, and also gave us the score for the War Between the States, that being:"Confederates 0 -- Yankees 1 -- halftime."


Pat Tinkley

 

I was scheduled to fly Saturday afternoon. It was still a bit windy at 2:30 PM, when my inflation was due to start, but we had anticipated that and had set my helium tanks in the lee of a grove of trees. At the appointed time, exactly one volunteer was there, but some frantic calling to the festival organizers eventually yielded enough people to do the inflation.

 


Tony Moore

Tony Moore

Tony Moore

 

Soon my bouquet of balloons was blossoming there beside the sheltering the trees.

 


Tony Moore


Tony Moore


Tony Moore

 

Continued....