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O#9: Fenton, Michigan
OJuly 24, 2004


W ith Craig and Michelle

Seven Lakes State Park is located about an hour north of Detroit. For the past eleven years, local balloonists Craig and Michelle Elliott have been holding the Seven Lakes State Park Balloon Classic in July. In 2003 I attended the Seven Lakes rally, hoping to do a cluster balloon flight, but the event was cancelled due to rain and high winds. However, Craig and Michelle were kind enough to invite me back for another try in 2004.


Seven Lakes State Park is located near the town of Holly. Holly is a small town, now more or less a suburb of Detroit and Flint. There's a pretty little downtown area, with numerous antique shops. Battle Alley in downtown Holly was the scene of hatchet-wielding temperance activist Carrie Nation's assaults on various local drinking establishments. Like everywhere else in Michigan, the streets are of Holly are lined with rusty American cars, monuments to hard winters and local industry.

Carrie Nation

Battle Alley

The Holly Hotel


My cluster flight at Seven Lakes was scheduled for Saturday evening at 7 PM. There were plenty of crew volunteers from among the spectators and the hot-air balloonists and their crew. Craig had arranged for an inflatable dome tent for us to use.


Larry and I
Pink Hat was off on some mysterious business of his own, so I was ably assisted by my alternate crew chief, retired fireman Larry Vandenberg. My friend Marj Walters was there to offer encouragement.

Marj: "Arrrgh"



We finished the inflation early, and assembled the balloons into the cluster. A bit of wind came up, bouncing my balloons around and causing us a bit of anxiety. However, as 7 PM approached, a light overcast moved in and the wind calmed.

A good-sized crowd had come out to see the balloons launch. I got into my harness as the hot-air balloons began to inflate. Crew attached the balloons to my legs and feet, lifting them out behind me, and I took the bunches of balloons in my hand.


And up I went.