Winds keep hot air balloons grounded at New Smyrna Beach air show; last chance today

Latoya King and daughter Semayah enjoy the New Smyrna Beach Balloon  & Sky Fest / Headline SurferNew Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest lacked hot air balloons Saturday / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer photos by Henry Frederick / A Re/Max balloon is all that is visible in the way of balloons Saturday at the New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest. The early morning manned hot air balloons that were supposed to take to the skies couldn't because of gusting winds. That was a bummer for Latoya King and her girl, Semayah, shown here in the cockpit of an airplane, who got to the municipal airport at dawn in hopes of seeing the majestic balloons in flight.
 

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Latoya King brought her 6-year-old daughter Semayah to the New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest on Saturday for one reason: The hot air balloons. But they were grounded due to gusting winds and it's possible the same scenario could play out again at dawn on this third and final day.

"She really wanted to see the balloons in the air -- that is all she talked about," said King, 29, of her little girl. "It's kind of disappointing to have a balloon festival without the balloons."

Semayah King enjoys cotton candy at the NSB Balloon & Sky Fest / Headline Surfer"She really wanted to see the balloons in the air -- that is all she talked about," said King, 29, of her little girl. "It's kind of disappointing to have a balloon festival without the balloons."

Semayah King enjoys cotton candy at the New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest. Other than the disappointment of the hot air balloons being grounded, she went on kiddy rides and got to see various plane exhibits.

Still, mom and daughter, who recently moved to New Smyrna Beach from Daytona Beach, made a day of it, with the kiddy rides, petting zoos, plenty of food and a big ol' bag of cotton candy. One of the last things they did was climb aboard the cockpit of a big fighter plane equipped with cameras to get their photo taken together -- $15 for three snapshots.

Big wing at New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest / Headline SurferA chopper took guests in the air at the NSB Balloon Festival / Headline SurferWith the hot air balloons missing in action, airplanes took center stage Saturday at the New Smyrna Beach Balloon Festival & Air Show.

In all, King said she spent close to a hundred bucks because her daughter was having so much fun.

King said she was surprised there wasn't more attendees, saying the crowds were larger in the earlier part of the day, but as the day progressed they got noticeably thinner.

A hot dog vendor who declined to give his name said he and other merchants felt the crowds weren't as big this year because admission was $5 a head instead of by the carload, though children were still free. This year, parking is free.

"They wanted to charge us 85 cents for bottled water and have us re-sell it for three dollars, but I refused," the vendor said. "You look around -- it's not a lot of people.

Families attend New Smyrna Balloon & Sky Fest / Headline SurferCrowds thinned later in the afternoon Saturday at the NSB Balloon Festival / Headline SurferParking was spacious at balloon festival / Headline SurferThough the balloon festival organizers claimjed they were in a record pace for attendance, these photos taken at 5 p.m. Saturday Parking was plentiful at NSB Balloon Festival / Headline Surfershow a thinned out crowd. Parking was plentiful by mid-afternoon Saturday at the airport.

Arlen Stauffer, one of the organizers, however, was insistent the crowds Saturday had already exceeded last year's three-day total of 38,000, even with Friday's rainout, though he wouldn't commit to a figure. "We're going to hit 50,000," he said.

Arlen Stauffer, one of the organizers, however, was insistent the crowds Saturday had already exceeded last year's three-day total of 38,000, even with Friday's rainout, though he wouldn't commit to a figure. "We're going to hit 50,000."

Brighthouse tent at New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Air Fest / Headline SurferThe two big advertisering benefactors behind the the balloon festival, The Daytona Beach News-Journal and Bright house Networks, had booths at the New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport.

That's the figure that was used by organizers in pushing for taxpayer-subsidized funding to promote the event from the ad authority and publicly-funded Bert Fish Hospital in New Smyrna Beach and Halifax Health in Daytona Beach.

The event was marketed heavily by Bright house Networks and the Daytona Beach News-Journal, listed as sponsors, but were paid to advertise the three-day event, which concludes today.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.