Yesterday we drove down to Hamilton (about one hour 15 minutes away) to see the Night Glow part of the Balloons over Waikato festival. This consists of the tethered balloons being lit by their burners in time to music, and this was pretty cool. There were 18 balloons involved (Greg counted them) and three special shapes this year. In honour of Darth Vader, two of the music pieces were the Star Wars march and Vader's theme. For the Nightmare House, they also did 'Werewolves of London', 'Monster Mash', and 'Time Warp'. :-)
The Night Glow lasted an hour and though my view was a little obscured by people (many of whom had kids on their shoulders) I actually managed to get two pictures when they were all lit. Then they had an excellent firework show which was right above us so that the bigger ones were comin' right at ya. Greg got some pics; was too busy enjoying them.
The yellow one is an egg with little eggs around it, and the words, "An egg a day is now OK". You can also see the Little Pirate in his barrel and the Nightmare House on the right.
Those balloons were huge. They were about half a kilometre away.
And there's Darth Vader in the middle. He didn't light up inside from his burner, so they lit him from outside. Here's what the site said about him:
Darth Vader is visiting from Belgium with his pilot Michel Lambert. Michel is a huge Star Wars fan, so much so, that he has arranged for the New Zealand Star Wars Fan Club to provide ‘Storm Troopers’ to assist him. His has even fashioned his balloon burner to the shape of a laser! When Darth Vader was being created, only 3 people at the assembly factory knew the final shape. The rest of the factory divisions were assigned small portions of the balloon to make, thus keeping the final outcome a total secret.
Greg moved the camera while he was taking this one, but I like the effect.
One of the big ones
This one looks like an alien life form.
It's the first time I've gone to this, and probably the last because of the shockingly bad traffic organisation. It took us two hours to got to the venue, just outside Hamilton, because the promised one bus per 15 minutes didn't come. The venue was supposed to be closed to cars, but I later found out that the traffic management people hired to enforce this... didn't, and for the second year running. So because buses couldn't get back to bring more people out, the few passing were packed. We drove into town to get one earlier on its route, and finally got one.
We arrived at the venue about 20 minutes before the Night Glow, so that was good, but there were only three food and drink stalls for the many thousands there, so that was bad. Lucky I brought some water and two emergency protein bars. :-P
Then when we left, yes, there were no buses because the huge traffic jam of cars wouldn't let them through. There were long lines of several thousand people stretching across the field, and we--fairly near the front of the one for our bus route--were there an hour. I'd say some people didn't got home for another two hours, and lots of them had little kids. One of the organisers walked down the lines telling people to write to the paper to complain about the traffic management company. I'm not sure I can be bothered as I don't live there, but I hope they bloody well get a rocket under them. It's such a pity because it's a really fun occasion otherwise.