Monday, September 17, 2007

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah – That’s Neat.

This weekend brought with it beautiful weather for St. Louis. The balmy, slightly cool breeze seemed to blow away the last bit of humidity from our city. Saturday was a perfect day to take in The Great Forest Park Balloon Race. This year’s race was number 35 of the annual event. Dozens of balloons take off across the sky, chasing a giant balloon shaped like the Energizer Bunny®. The Energizer Bunny® Hot “Hare” Balloon is reported to be the world’s largest hot air balloon, standing 15’ taller than the Statue of Liberty.

We had never been to the balloon race before, given the crowds and weather in the past. If conditions aren’t right, many of the larger balloons, including the main attraction, can’t always take off. That’s not fun news to break to kids who have been waiting, however impatiently, for hours to see the balloons fly. John’s mom, Susan, was in town and it was too gorgeous to spend the day indoors so we took our chances. We loaded onto the Metrolink and rode the train to Forest Park. We had a bit of a hike from the station to our ultimate viewing spot. When the boys informed us that they couldn’t walk another step, we found a nice spot in the grass hoping the wind would be favorable and blow the balloons our way. The waiting began.

And the wait was well worth it! As I mentioned, I had never been to the race before, but I assure you I will not miss another. Our seats could not have been more perfect. As we sat facing the spot where the balloons would appear, we began to see the enormous, pink ears of the Energizer Bunny® rise up from behind the trees. The bunny floated into the air, and we performed the wind test using blades of grass to see if we could guess which direction he would head. To our sheer delight, he came right for us. After about 15 minutes, balloons of all shapes (balloons shaped as you would expect, but also more creative shapes like an Alpo dog food can, a moving van, and a big bag of popcorn) and colors began to rise and give chase. The sky was nearly cloudless and a perfect shade of blue. The bright colors of the balloons were dazzling against the backdrop. When all was said and done, over 35 balloons (counted by Luke, so there may have been more) made it into the sky, most of which flew right over our heads and some landing just feet from our chosen seats.

And, during this feast for the eyes, what were my boys doing? After they proclaimed exhaustion after the relatively short hike from the train station to the park? You guessed it. They were wrestling. Even with all of this extraordinary and potentially once in a lifetime spectacle going on right above their heads, they wanted to wrestle. And play chase. And drag each other across the grass. I think if we ever went to an event like this and the boys in my male-dominated household (MDH) sat peacefully and watched the event unfold without touching each other, I would surely drop dead from a coronary. They did take an occasional break to ooh and aah and count the balloons, but of the approximately 2 hours we spent at the balloon race, 1 hour and 45 minutes of that the boys spent wrestling and chasing.

Here are the boys wrestling before the race.

Here they are taking a 5 minute break to watch the race.

Here is the bunny coming right over our heads.

Where are the boys? Wrestling, of course.

Here are the balloons landing right next to us.

Where are the boys? Playing chase.

After we got home that night and well into the next day, they couldn’t stop talking about the balloon race and how neat and fun it was. I agree that the balloon race was neat. I think that most of what qualified as fun for them was spending the day outside in fresh air that wasn’t so hot that it hurt your lungs just to breath, and having seemingly endless, wide open space to run around like wild maniacs.

And, I can’t write about my MDH without mentioning my husband. Jack had gone to a birthday party that morning at a karate center. The kids learned a few karate moves, and it was a pretty cool party. While we were waiting for the balloons to launch, Jack was trying his new moves on his brother. John’s mom said something like, “Jack, remember what the teacher said. You never use these moves on people. Please stop kicking your brother.” Definitely something a woman and mother would say. And John said, “When you kick him, use the top of your foot and not your toes or your toes may break.” All boy.

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