Patriotism floats in the Ashland sky

“Fly high those patriotic colors and splash your message of loyalty and love of country throughout your every conversation. We are blessed to live in this free country. Let others know your appreciation of every day and every gift we have been given!”

- Miriam Owsley, on recent radio commentary

Sunday morning dawned crisp, clear and beautiful. What a great way to close out an impressive Independence Day celebration weekend.

Doug went out to get the newspaper around 7 a.m. and said, “The hot air balloons are up… let’s go for a ride!”

I grabbed my first cup of coffee of the day, remembered to snag my camera from the shelf, and we headed out.

The annual Fourth of July BalloonFest has become such a wonderful event for my hometown of Ashland, Ohio. This was the 13th year for it, and people have traveled from all across the country to participate.

Amazing colors. Each year it seems to grow in numbers and in spectacular color. What a sight to see more than 20 huge hot air balloons in the air at once! This year, the surge of patriotism was wonderfully apparent in so many flags being flown throughout the town and country.

This morning, we watched several of those enormous balloons land, most in farm fields, one in a lucky fellow’s backyard.

It was a vibrant all-yellow balloon, as bright as sunshine. I hope that man had had his wake-up coffee before he looked out his back window to see a bright yellow ball landing next to his deck – he may have thought the sun was falling!

In the corn. The last one we watched landing took us out to the family dairy farm of the Chester Boyer family. As the striped balloon of many colors hovered over the corn field, my husband Doug uttered, “Oh, don’t land in the corn field. That corn has been too hard to grow this year to break a single stalk!”

As if listening to his admonishment, the pilot re-lit the torch and kept the balloon moving every so slightly, moving at a crawl just above the corn.

Eventually, two of the grounds crew members came and grabbed the wicker basket which held the pilot and his traveling companion.

Walk the dog. Ever so slowly, the grounds crew members walked toward the Boyer lawn, “just like walking a dog,” Doug said. A very big and colorful dog!

Chester and Fern Boyer had come out of their home to watch the events unfold, and I’m sure it will remain as a very memorable morning for their family for years to come.

When my son, Cort, was just a little shaver, one of the first years this event was held, he accompanied my Dad to one of his alfalfa fields where “The Lucky Shamrock” hot air balloon landed.

Cort helped. The pilot asked Cort if he was willing to help, and he enthusiastically nodded his head. He was instructed to take his shoes off, then “jump” on the hot air balloon as it began to deflate, punching the air out of it so it could be folded up. What a thrill for a little guy, and what a great memory for all of us.

The pilots respect the land owners and the land owners are given a front-row seat in what has become a wonderful weekend for so many.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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