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Up, up and away: balloons take flight in Walpole

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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff

At first glance, it’s a Sunday just like every other Sunday at Walpole’s Bird Park. People are out walking on a beautiful morning. The sky is blue and the grounds are pristine. Suddenly, there is a sound - a roar punctuating the silence in semi-regular intervals. Then you finally see them: two hot air balloons, majestically perched in an open field.

That normal Sunday? Not quite so normal any longer.

“It’s a great day,” says Kelsey Cowdell, Engagement Site Manager at Bird Park. “We’re really lucky.” Kelsey is overseeing Bird’s Eye View of Bird Park, put on by The Trustees of Reservations, as part of the 125th anniversary of the Trustees.

“It is the 125th anniversary of the Trustees, so we are trying to do these kind of big, exciting things. This one was kind of inspired by The Neponset, which was a blimp that took off from Vista Field,” explains Cowdell. “It was one of the only blimps that Goodyear made that wasn’t for Goodyear, and it was for Bird & Son Company. We figured we’d honor that not with a blimp, but with hot air balloons.”
“It just also seemed like a pretty cool idea,” she admits. “Everyone keeps saying how much of a ‘bucket-list’ thing it is for them.”

The event, which runs in a morning and afternoon session, will send nearly 200 people over Walpole in two different balloons - if the weather plays ball, of course.

“If it’s really windy,” says Cowdell, “it means that they go through fuel faster, and if it’s thunderstorms or anything, we can’t exactly do anything then.”

“It is pretty dependent on the weather,” she continues as wind whips in the field. “Particularly this afternoon, we’ll have to wait until the wind calms down. That’s why we do it in the early morning and late afternoon - the winds pick up as the day goes on.”

Cowdell and the Trustees of Reservations are hoping that events like this will continue bringing people into Bird Park - “a reason to come back,” as she puts it. “Basically just a way to enjoy the park. We really hope to be able to give people a real community feel around the park, and doing events and programs is how we’re usually able to do that.”

Bird Park’s summer slate of events do not end with Bird’s Eye View. Among the upcoming programs are Discover Bird Park (held today between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and Summer Sundays.

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