100 feet above Kirksville: SAB organizes hot-air balloon rides

Taking the chance to finally conquer my ridiculous fear of the sky, I took the time to wait for a spot to open and nabbed it the second I could. Driving to the corner of South Franklin and LaHarpe, the first thing I saw was the burner flame burst into the beautiful multicolored balloon.

Truman State University students had the chance to ride a hot air balloon hundreds of feet in the air anchored to the ground with ropes. The Student Activities Board hosted the High Flying Adventure Friday, April 26 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and allowed students to sign up online for a spot weeks in advance.

After taking a quick stroll down the grassy hill toward the SAB table and signing a waiver, I waited with over a dozen other people while a young child gave us safety directions for entering the balloon. As we waited, the same child gave me a wonderful twizzler candy that calmed my nerves.

As we stepped into the balloon, shuffling past the others who had just taken their adventure into the sky, the tension grew as I felt the weight of the basket continually shift. Looking around, everyone looked more excited than nervous. The flame ignited with a grand display of yellow and orange, and slowly the basket lifted off the ground. Within a minute, we were hundreds of feet in the air. Members of our group took pictures and pointed out the beautiful sights of Kirksville and Truman, all the while my hands were gripped like a vice to the side of the basket.

It was absolutely gorgeous. It was nearing nighttime, so the city’s lights were turning on while the flame beside us illuminated the ground. Never have I had the pleasure of being able to see the city of Kirksville and Truman’s campus from such a height, and while I didn’t once take my hands off of that basket as it was my life line, it was still an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

As the basket lowered and a new group began to cycle on, I took the chance to talk to students Angelique Beasley and Lillian Schell who had been in my group.

Beasley said it was an amazing time, while Schell said Beasley held her hand the entire ride. Neither had ridden in a hot air balloon and this was a chance to experience a rare opportunity with a smaller group in comparison to events that had hundreds of people in attendance.

“Oh yeah, I love the diversity of the SAB office,” Beasley said. “I’d really like something like this to happen again.”

This event wouldn’t have been possible without SAB’s coordination. Both students heard about the event from either their emails or SAB’s social media like Facebook and Twitter.

SAB president Adam Miesner said the High Flying Adventure was an event that was also put on years ago. Since a new cycle of students have come around, it was time to bring the adventure back to Truman.

“We’ve been trying to move up all of our planning and organization further up and hopefully we can publicize them further out,” Miesner said. “For example, for this event, we sent it out with our April email and we had posters up before tha, so that gave people about a month out to think about, ‘Okay, I’m going to try and put this in my schedule.’”

The event was originally scheduled for Thursday, April 25, but was pushed to Friday, April 26 because of bad weather. Miesner said the surveys sent out to the Truman community helped decide what event to put on. The free response section in the surveys is important because it allows students the chance to voice an opinion on what is going to happen on campus. Sophia Gao, special event member and new production chair, said the campus-wide surveys are what make these kinds of events possible.

Gao said SAB did a lot of research with the surveys to find out what was possible in Kirksville and what people have never had the chance to experience. The High Flying Adventure was a great event to hold at the end of the year so everyone could have a fun night before beginning to cram for finals, and it gave everyone who attended a new story to tell their friends and family.