Balloons Grounded, Skydivers Soar at Eyes to the Skies

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The 38th annual Eyes to the Skies Festival kicked off in Lisle bright and early on Friday morning with a hot air balloon show.

But, unfortunately for those who trekked out to the field at 5 a.m., the steady wind waved just hard enough to keep the balloons grounded, too unsafe for the pilots to take them up for their usual 10-15 mile journey around the area.

But crowds of families still gathered to gaze at the nearly dozen, fully inflated massive balloons, and all of their colors and creative designs.

“You know, I love flying the balloon, but balloon’s are magic and they put smiles on little kid’s faces,” said balloon pilot John Petrehn of Bimbo Bakeries USA. “And this’ll put a smile on even the grumpiest person’s face, so just sharing ballooning with people who have never experienced it before is really what I like best.”

Balloonists traveled from all over the country to make it to Lisle for this year’s festival, which, according to Event Chairman Roger Leone, is not as unlikely as you may think.

“There are some from the Southwest, New Mexico, New Jersey, I think there is a couple pilots from Michigan,” said Leone. “So, they come from all over the place. This is a very tight club, so wherever they can fly their balloon – that’s what they do.”

And even though they weren’t able to take to the skies this morning – they’ll be back at 5 a.m., as well as 5 p.m. all weekend to try again – with a special glowing balloon light show at night.

But there was still plenty of reason to look up to, as crowds were treated to a different kind air show: sky divers. Three of them glided through the sky carrying banners and American flags before sailing in for a landing.

The Eyes to the Skies Festival is open all weekend from noon to 11 p.m. chock-full of music, food, fireworks and a carnival at Community Park in Lisle, with all of the proceeds going to local Lisle charities.

Naperville News 17’s Peter Medlin reports.