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'Floating in a dream': Second annual Stillwater County balloon rally fills weekend with fun

Posted at 9:41 PM, May 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 11:12:10-04

COLUMBUS — The second annual Stillwater County balloon rally rook place Friday through Sunday at the Woltermann Memorial Airport in Columbus, Montana.

“Once you get the bug to actually balloon, there’s so many (exciting parts)," said Marsha Olson, the lead volunteer organizer about her favorite part of the day, "Inflating the balloons, getting involved, being a volunteer.”

Eight hot air balloons began inflating on Saturday around 6 a.m.

“The sheer magnitude of these balloons is something that you really have to experience in person," said Melissa Codner with the Stillwater County Chamber of Commerce, who helped coordinate the event.

While many said they looked forward to the beauty of the balloons, Luke Cesnik, the pilot for Freedom Flight Incorporated, said he was pleased to be present for his organization's cause.

“There are a lot of people that we run into that can’t even tell us what POWMIA stands for," said Cesnik, who was flying a balloon with the prisoner of war/missing in action (POWMIA) logo on it. "There’s still people out there who haven’t come home and there’s families that are waiting.”

The United States Air Force veteran said the ballooning experience can best be summarized by a quote provided by a girl he piloted for in Hudson, Wisconsin, who told him the experience "is like floating in a dream."