Hot air balloons lure rural landowners

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BERLIN CENTER, Ohio – Don Eells of Sebring had been hinting his birthday wish to friends and family for years. All he wanted was to ride in a hot air balloon.

This year, his wish was granted.

“He kept saying all he was waiting on was perfect weather,” according to Ron Ickes of Alliance, who went along on the ride.

That perfect weather came Aug. 21, and Eells floated through the sky for miles before landing in a grass area along state Route 534 south of Berlin Center.

“It was so quiet. All we could hear were dogs barking,” he said.

Farm connection. For years, more than 100 pilots and members of the Northeastern Ohio Balloon Pilots Association have depended on farmers and rural landowners to provide landing spots for the balloons.

In return, the group pays annually into the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Darwin Bryan scholarship fund. Educational scholarships are provided to rural youth through the Farm Bureau.

“We appreciate the farmers so much. This is where we have to land, in their open fields.

“Adding to the scholarship is our way of thanking and helping out the farmers,” said Deb Hawkins of Sebring, who owns the balloon, Boo-Lou-Noodles, with her husband, Pete.

The balloon name is a combination of the nicknames of the couple’s three grandchildren.

Landowner’s thoughts. “I was out watering my flowers and saw them coming over the trees,” said Carol Cartwright.

Soon after, the Hawkins’ pickup truck pulled into Cartwright’s driveway and asked for permission to land on the property owned by Cartwright and her husband, Bob.

“It was so neat to see them up close. They’re so pretty up in the sky, and what could it hurt to have them land,” she said.

“I thought it was great. It’s just too bad our grandsons weren’t here to see them,” she said.

(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com

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