August 1st, 2012
Michaels, Robinson perform at hot air ballooning festival
Participants were able to view special shaped balloons and take balloon and helicopter rides during the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, the largest hot air balloon and music festival in North America. Over 165,000 people attended the popular event this year. For the Hudson Valley Press/ED McCARTHY
By Reneé Ruwe
& Ed McCarthy
READINGTON, NJ - The Quick Check New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is the largest hot air balloon and music festival in North America, with 100 sport and special shaped hot air balloons from around the world. The three day festival ran from July 27th through July 29th, and is estimated to have drawn a crowd of over 165,000 people, according to the festival’s Executive Producer, Howard Freeman. Freeman is quoted as saying this festival is the “Greatest Glow on Earth.’
During the event, participants were able to take balloon and helicopter rides. Special shaped balloons were featured, which included an 86-foot-tall Darth Vader balloon and a 115-foot astronaut, The Cosmic Q, a signature balloon from Quick Check.
Besides all the fun to be had watching the balloons fill the sky, the music portion of the festival boasted some major star power. The three headlining performers at this year’s festival were Motown legend Smokey Robinson, rocker Eddie Money, and Poison front man and recent reality TV star Brett Michaels (Rock of Love, The Celebrity Apprentice).
Friday night opened the weekend with a bang. The evening featured a performance by 70s/80s rocker Eddie Money, who played such hits as “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” and “I Think I’m in Love.” The Friday night fun, which kicked-off the weekend of festivities, also featured a dazzling fireworks display for the crowd.
On Saturday night, “The Mayor of Motown,” Smokey Robinson, unfortunately saw his performance cut short due to severe lightning after only a 10 minute set. Robinson is a legendary producer/songwriter for Motown. He was also a front man for the group “The Miracles,” and went on to achieve great success as a solo artist. One little known fact about Smokey Robinson is that he was once the next door neighbor of Diana Ross.
Smokey’s song “Shop Around” was Motown Records first number one hit song. He went on to become a Vice President at Motown Records, and received the Grammy Living Legend Award in 1988. He has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Song Writers Hall of Fame.
Sunday afternoon featured a show by “The Brett Michaels Band.” Brett dedicated the song “Something to Believe In” to our troops, as well as raising funds for his charity, The Diabetes Foundation.
Freeman believes in “doing well by doing good.” In the 19 years since he has taken over, the festival has raised more than $2 million dollars for local and regional charities, including their main beneficiary, The Children’s Miracle Network.
The festival, held at Solberg Airport, has been named one of the top 100 events in North America five times by the American Ballooning Association, as well as the number one thing to do in New Jersey in 2012 by New Jersey Monthly Magazine.