NSB Balloon and Sky Fest draws 30,000 fans to New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport

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Photo by Henry Frederick and video by Sera Frederick / Former New Smyrna Beach Mayor Sally Mackay stands proud at the municipal airport Sunday with hot air balloons in the background during the NSB Balloon and Sky Fest, which she helped get off the ground three years ago.The first year several thousand show up. It grew to 10,000 last year and this past three-day weekend, expanded to 30,000 spectators.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Three years ago, then-Mayor Sally Mackay had a vision of turning the New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport into a weekend balloon festival. As it turned out she wasn't full of hot air.

With the addition of an air show this time around with dare-devil pilots, a children's science fair, petting zoo, pony rides, military plane exhibits, food and community vendors, the 2011 NSB Balloon and Sky Fest, drew balloon lovers from across Florida and even some from overseas.

With picture-perfect weather, Mackay and other organizers were ecstatic.

"This is what it's all about," Mackay said, pointing to the array of hot air balloons that had just landed and countless children and adults of all ages, cheering and snapping photos and shooting video. "Everybody loves this and New Smyrna Beach is once again the place to be."

Mackay, a one-term mayor originally from England, whose campaign motto was to "save the charm," said New Smyrna Beach has so much to offer its residents and tourists alike -- from its hard-sand beach to its Intracoastal, to trendy Flagler Avenue and its array of quiet neighborhoods and lush greenery. "I wouldn't want to live any where else."

The man who narrowly defeated her two years ago, Mayor Adam Barringer, credited her for the success of the balloon fest, pointing out that some 30,000 people enjoyed the festivities during the three-day event that concluded Sunday with clear blue skies during the three days.

"A lot of credit goes to Sally Mackay," Barringer said. "She started this three years ago and it has grown into an economic engine for New Smyrna Beach."

With signature sponsorship from Brighthouse Networks, the cost to the city was minimal. Crowds were well-behaved and there were no mishaps among the two dozen-plus hot air balloons.

Editor's Note: NSBNews.net shot extensive videos of the event with interviews with those who took to the skies in the balloons, along with interviews with former Mayor Sally Mackay and City Commissioner Jack Grasty. We hope that you enjoy our multi-media coverage, which shows our continued and increasing commitment to community journalism here in New Smyrna Beach and throughout Volusia County with around-the-clock Internet newspaper coverage.


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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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