This past weekend the second annual Balloons Over Paradise festival hosted by the Seminole Casino Immokalee this past weekend from April 20th to April 21st. This free event brought together some of the country’s top hot air balloon pilots and more than 30 hot air balloons, from multicolored and corporate balloons to special shaped balloons like Ella Phant the elephant, Spunky Flying Skunk, Miss Daisy and Sugar Bear.
The festival also included lots of other activities and entertainment options for everyone in the family from gator wrestling and flying dog stunts and live music to to performances by rocker Eddie Money who sang some of his greatest hits on Saturday 20th at the Casino Stage and the solid gold pop-rockers The Buckinghams who performed on the 21st.
We arrived to the Seminole Casino just before dawn on Sunday 21st. We parked the car at the casino and them got on a bus that took us to the Seminole Tribe Youth Camp where the balloons where. As we arrived I could hear the kids gasp and saw them jump up from their seats when they saw the Seminole Casino balloon glowing in the distance.
It was a little chilly for Southwest Florida. Getting two kids in the car before 6am is a feat onto itself and in the early morning craziness we forgot to even check the weather so we where a bit surprised by the temperatures that lingered in the sixties until 10am. The forecast for the day included scattered thunderstorms and a wind so the other balloon where not inflated until around 8:30am.
The balloons where not able to take off on Sunday because of the weather but just seeing them inflated all across the field was a breathtaking and delightful sight.
The kids learned about the balloon and their pilots, they watched them inflate and collected balloon cards. They where intrigued and at first a little scared, with the burners and how the balloons where able to fly just by heating up the air and ran from one balloon to the other looking at each one with wonder and amazement.
After the balloons went down we strolled the fair grounds where regional artisans displayed their artwork from beautiful miniature balloons, hand made jewelry and paintings to whimsical yard art made from recycled tires.
By mid morning most of the clouds that covered the sky earlier had disappeared and the sun shone brightly. The wind that prevented the balloons from going up provided a much-appreciated breeze. We headed to the Agility Dog Weave Pole Challenge where the children really enjoyed watching the dog agility course show and cheered the dogs as they jumped through obstacles and went trough tunnels. Around noon we took a break from the heat and enjoyed some sweet treats and freshly squeezed lemonade. We then headed to the pony rides and the bounce houses where the kids burned some off some energy.
At the Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch colorful kites flew across the blue skies and seemed to engage in a fun, acrobatic dance to the beat of the live music playing on the stage that hosted local award winning performers throughout the day including Indigie Femme Band and Grayson Rogers Band. Next to where Randy the Kite Man was performing stunts with his kites John Arnett and the Airk9z team of high flying Frisbee dogs where also putting on a great show. Those dogs could really jump high up in the sky and they where so much fun to watch. Both of my children where jumping up and down with excitement and cheering the dogs on.
Before leaving we walked by the Hot Rod Show where my little guy, who loves cars ran from one car to the next while he exclaimed “look at this one Daddy!. Isn’t it cool?” or “I love the red one I bet it goes super fast!” We finally headed to the cultural village, where the children where looking forward to watching Billie Walker and his gator wrestling show. Billie was entertaining and funny while he shared with the crown a lot of information about alligators and about the Seminole Tribe, the clans, how traditions where passed on from generation to generation and how things have changed and evolved today. You can learn more about alligator wrestling and the men who do it HERE and even watch a video of Billie.
Although the weather on Sunday was not ideal and we did not get to see the balloons lift up in the air or get a chance to ride on them the balloons soared up and filled the southwest Florida skies with a rainbow of colors on Saturday 20th. You can watch the highlights of the 2013 Balloons Over Paradise festival on the video below.
We are really looking forward to this event next year, it was a truly unforgettable experience to watch those beautiful multicolored balloons being inflated and seeing them all sway back and forth all across the field while the burners roared and the people watched in amazement. To top it off this wonderful event was free to the public and supported local charities, community involvement and local tourism.
You can learn more about the Seminole Casino Immokalee on their website and stay updated on their upcoming events on their events page and by liking Seminole Casino Immokalee on Facebook and following them on Twitter @SemCasImmokalee.
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I was going to go, and I completely forgot because I had to work :(!! 2nd year in a row I missed it. I know how awesome it is though. Hopefully next year!
Wow this sounds like one great event with plenty for people to do from the balloons, hot rods, foods, crafts and alligator show amoung things to do. I am sorry the balloons did not get to launch the day you were there but it did allow your children and family the opportunity to learn more about how they work, the noises the burners make and seeing the balloons up close. Wish they had something like that here in Oklahoma..
This sounds like a fabulous festival! I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon.
Thanks for sharing the great photos!
This looks like so much fun! I used to live in New Mexico and they had a yearly hot air balloon festival that I loved!
O wow I did not we had a Balloons Over Paradise Festival here in Fl I live in Sebring.
I can’t wait to go next year. Thanks for the info. I learn something new today.
Siempre he querido ir un show de Balloons !! Me encantaron las fotos. Gracias por compartir.
I’ve never been in a hot air balloon. Silly me. The balloons look really cute… I’m sure my kids would love seeing them.
Look at those beautiful hot air balloons! I love seeing festivities like this one and I haven’t even been to any real ones at that! I only see photos and descriptions of the activities but it would be nice for a change to be actually there and witness and soak it all in – the sights, music, food, camaraderie and the beautiful scenery around me.
WOW! look at these beautiful balloons! Its so nice! I’m pretty sure my daughter would love to this hot air balloons in person. She haven’t seen it personally yet.
Some of these balloons are just amazing. I wish that they had some kind of event like this in Arkansas. They are breathtaking.
This event looks awesome. I hope they continue to have it as I would love to come to it. If they keep having it on the same weekend then this is going to fall on my birthday next year! I live in Orlando, so I’m not that far away! Thank you for sharing 🙂
I am going to my first Hot Air Balloon event this summer and have been looking for as much info so I can be prepared and this review has given me some great insight 🙂 Thank you 🙂