By KAITLYN NAPLES
This year’s Annual Chrysanthemum Festival is going to be a little different then what Bristol is used to.
Balloons Over Bristol—a new returnee to the festival— is on its way to being a reality, according to Mum Festival Co-Chair Elliott Nelson.
“We are just waiting on approval from the city’s Real Estate Committee,” Nelson said. Since the city does not yet own the field at Memorial Boulevard Middle School, it can’t make the final approval to the festival committee. However, city attorneys and the Board of Education are working together to transfer the ownership of the field sooner than it was supposed to.
“We’ve been assured that we will get use of the field,” Nelson said, “so we are moving full steam ahead.”
More than a decade ago, Bristol used to see hot air balloons on an annual basis. But they haven’t been back since. The hot air balloons used to make an appearance at the Mum Festival for about 10 years. The event was sponsored by the Bristol Jaycees. However, damage to fields and lack of funding scuttled the event.
The festival committee has been working several months to bring Balloons Over Bristol, and even though there have been some bumps in the road, it is expected to move smoothly from here on out. The committee is working with the Connecticut Lighter Than Air Society to bring in balloonists from the state. Nelson said the only event in the state that the balloonists travel to is the Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival.
There will be 10 hot air balloons that will arrive in Bristol on Saturday, Sept. 22, for a balloon glow in the evening. There also will be tethered balloon rides for $5 from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and the balloon will go up between 50 and 75 feet high.
Nelson added that there will be other activities, and trading cards available that will feature information and history about each balloon, the Mum Festival, and information about each company or organization that has sponsored that balloon. The balloons will all then take-off on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 6 a.m., and anyone can watch the lift-off.
The committee is looking for sponsorships for both the Balloons Over Bristol event and the Mum Festival. The balloons are roughly $1,000 each, and anyone interested in sponsoring should contact Elliot Nelson at (860) 302-8370.
Bristol residents will see a few other changes to the festival this year, such as the location. Everything is going to be set up on Memorial Boulevard, between Mellen Street and East Road. Also, the Soap Box Derby race will be held on Memorial Boulevard closest to Main Street. Nelson also said there will be a car show and entertainment on the boulevard on Saturday evening. The crowning of Miss Mum and Junior Miss Mum, and the Mum Festival opening ceremonies, will be on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. at Bristol Central High School. The parade will be on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m.
For more information on the 51stAnnual Bristol Mum Festival, visit www.bristolmumfestival.org.