July 4, 2003
Aptly named balloon symbolizing freedom to celebrate 4th, appear at festivals statewide
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
RIDGELAND, Miss.—The Independence, a 69,000 cubic foot competition balloon sponsored by Methodist Rehabilitation Center, will participate in the annual Celebrate America Balloon Glow at Northpark Mall in Ridgeland on July 4 and at the Canton Balloon Festival July 5-6.
During the next few months the balloon, which symbolizes freedom and independence for people with disabilities, will appear at other festivals and balloon events throughout the state.
“The Independence is the one name we thought perfectly fit this balloon because it symbolizes the freedom that Methodist Rehabilitation Center gives its patients in their quest to lead rewarding lives,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of the Jackson hospital.
“We always enjoy coming to Ridgeland and Canton,” said Bert Corollo, the owner and operator of balloon. “Both cities put on first class shows and always attract huge crowds. It is a real pleasure to fly in the Canton race and to appear at the balloon glow in Ridgeland.”
The Independence will appear at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s Family Weekend Aug. 9-10 in Jackson and in Greenville on Aug. 29. It will also be part of the Old Brook Festival in Brookhaven Oct. 2-4.
“For the last four years The Independence has flown in balloon races and festivals all over the state,” said Jim Albritton, public relations director at Methodist Rehab. “We get a great response any time the balloon appears in Mississippi and people really seem to understand the message it sends, especially those with disabilities.”
“Other events are scheduled for the summer months, but we’re always looking for places to take the balloon,” said Albritton. “We’d like to add some more events in south Mississippi and on the coast to the schedule, but we’re receptive to any invitation anywhere in the state.”
The Independence bears the Methodist Rehab logo which is a combination of two images—the lamp of knowledge and the hand of healing. Together they form a dove representing the triumph of the human spirit. The gondola or basket is made of wicker and can accommodate the pilot, one passenger and a15 million BTU propane burner that enables the balloon to fly for about four hours.
Since its debut in 1999, Corollo and chief pilot, Joe McKay, have competed in several races and appeared in many festivals in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, including the Mississippi Championship Balloon Fest, the Great Texas Balloon Race, and the North American Balloon Association U.S. National Championship.