DANSVILLE — Some balloon pilots gathered on the Brae Burn Golf Course to light up the sky.
On Aug. 31 the Dansville Balloon Glow kicked-off the weekend for the famous New York State Festival of Balloons.
Mike DePew of Manchester, NH had his first balloon ride in 1994. His father would come down to pilot the Dansville Balloon Festival for many many years. DePew said he learned a lot about ballooning from his father and other pilots. In 2013 he got his pilot license. This is his first year being a pilot at the balloon festival, and his first time at the Dansville Balloon Glow.
Ann and Bill Teachout of Dansville have always opened their doors to the DePew family.
“Mike has been coming to this festival since he was three years old, and we have always opened up our house to his family,” Ann Teachout said. “They have became a big part of our family.”
Alecia Detka, of New Hampshire, Mike’s girlfriend, came to the Dansville Balloon Glow and Festival for the first time. She has taken a balloon ride with DePew about four times so far, and said it is a lot of fun.
“This is my first time here. When I started dating Mike he told me all about his love for balloons and the Dansville Balloon Festival. We flew all last year, and signed up for this. We are very excited to be carrying this on,” she said. “I liked watching the home videos from past festivals at Ann’s house. It was neat to see how it all started. We wanted to make this a weekend trip and enjoy it.”
Detka said she is impressed by the professionalism at the festival, and that everyone’s number one priority is safety.
Teachout said that Detka has become and instant member of their family, and she always has a home here.
“We always knew Mike would be a pilot,” Teachout said. “He said he would come back someday and fly in the Dansville Balloon Festival.”
DePew will take up Patch Adams in the festival, but for the glow he used his friend, Jim Glazier balloon Manifesto.
“He got Patch Adams from his uncle Bill who knew Mike would be a balloon pilot someday,” Detka said. “The first official balloon he got from a friend who passed away. He flies Manifesto in honor of Jim Glazier.”
“Mike is a private pilot. He takes his friends and family up in the balloon,” Detka continued. “He does this because he loves it. He wants to teach it someday.”
Beth Davidson of Canton, OH started being a pilot in 1978. She has been coming to the Dansville Balloon Festival for 35 years. She flies Zig Zag.
“I have been with the same host family the whole time I have been coming here. I started with Richard Gillard and now I am staying with their daughter, Bridget Quibell,” she said. “I love flying in this area. It is a beautiful area to fly in, and there are wonderful people here. This town makes us feel so welcome.”
“We have gone up many times, and I wouldn’t go up with anyone else,” Quibell said. “I was 12 when I started working on the crew. It has been a great experience with several generations.”
Davidson said the Dansville Balloon Festival remains her favorite festival that she looks forward to every year.
Kathy and Dave Reineke of Mahomet, Ill have owned and operated Peg Leg Pete for three years. They have been piloting for over 30 years. They started coming to the Dansville Balloon Festival about six years ago.
“We love to fly when we can. This is a pretty area and a great festival every year,” Kathy Reineke said. “They are always nice people.”
Dave Reineke said the festival is nice enough to hire them every year to bring their special shape balloon.
“The main reason we have the balloon is because we love the artwork,” he said. “I love to show the kids the pirate puppets when they come and see the balloon. I will let them stand in the basket.”
Mac Kastner of Wayland has been helping out with Dansville Balloon Festival as a crew member for 14 years. For the last five years he has helped Balloon Pilot Keith Sproul.
“We are called Sproulville, because we follow Keith around everywhere,” he said. “We are a four person family, and we have about 17 people staying with us. We are a host family for the crew.”
Kastner was a toddler when he started helping out, and went up in his first ride when he was about six years old.
“My father has been on the balloon committee for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I thought this balloon was some weird giant bag of hot air that would fly away. When I went on my first flight it took away the terror of heights. There is something about being in a balloon that takes away the terror.”