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O#34: Maysville, Kentucky
OAugust 17, 2007


Maysville, Kentucky is located in the northern part of the state along the Ohio River. The city has a picturesque downtown area on the south bank of the river, with historic churches and public buildings, and a soaring two-lane suspension bridge that leads to Aberdeen, Ohio.Up on the bluffs above the river, the rest of the town sprawls out along a couple of main highways, with the same franchises and big box retailers you'd find just about anywhere.






Singer Rosemary Clooney is probably the most famous person born in Maysville. Her first movie premiered at the Russell theatre downtown, and for many years the town held an annual music festival in her honor. In her number one hit, "Come On-A My House" she sings: "Come on-a my house, my house, I'm gonna give you candy". After "candy", the visitor is promised "fig and date", "Christmas tree", "Easta egg" and "everything". This was probably a bit risque for a small Kentucky town in the 1951, but perhaps people saw it as some variety of Southern hospitality.



I had the chance to enjoy the hospitality of Maysville myself in 2007, when I was invited to attend the inaugural Buffalo Trace Balloon Race. The event took place at the Maysville Community and Technical College, where many of the balloon race organizers worked.


Intrigued by the name, I asked one of the organizers, Barb Campbell, what the significance of the "Buffalo Trace" was, and was told that it was the name of Kentucky Area Development District which included Maysville's county of Mason. Wondering if there might be some less prosaic explanation, I asked around some more and learned that the Buffalo Trace was a wilderness pathway created by migrating buffalo, and later used by early settlers moving into Kentucky and Indiana. A mural in downtown Maysville depicts a buffalo straying from the Trace and being tenderized by hungry Indians.


I was scheduled to be the first balloon to launch at the opening of the event on Friday afternoon. Phil and Debbie Rutan from Ohio drove down to assist again as my crew chiefs, along with their son Brad.

The event had undergone a last minute change in leadership: Pam McGlone, with whom I'd been corresponding for many months, had been hospitalized earlier than expected for her pregenancy, leaving in charge the relentlessly ebullient Billie Barbour.


Nonetheless, things seemed very well organized for a first-year event. Everything was ready for my flight on a very hot and humid Friday afternoon when the crew volunteers from the festival arrived to inflate my balloons.




After the balloons were all attached to me, my crew walked me around to the front of the college building we'd been using as wind shelter. We were at the bottom of a short slope from where some local dignitaries were delivering speeches out on the lawn. My crew positioned me so that I wouldn't hit trees on my way out, and I waited for one of the festival people for my cue to launch.




At the signal, the band played, and 90 red, white and blue helium balloons lifted me into the sky over Kentucky.