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A Fine Story... 

This story was written by Javon Harris, an intern at CALDERON CHARITIES OF AMERICA BROADCASTING NETWORK. Check out their website by clicking below.

The 2023 Warren County Hot Air Balloons Launched With A Few Twists left by Mother Nature herself.

The 2023 Warren County Hot Air Balloon Festival gave Calderon Charities of America Broadcasting Network the opportunity to experience a true memorable moment. From the hot air balloons, to the screams of excitement that went from one end to the other, to the vendors and entertainment, the festival was a true masterpiece. The festival was held from the 2nd to the 4th in June 2023, in Washington Township, New Jersey. None other than Mrs. Giulia Grotenhuis had the opportunity to once again bring the Hot Air Balloon Festival to its greatest heights. While there may have been some high and low moments, the festival delivered in ways that had left its mark once again in the community. Selling out tickets to a packed house gave proof that the festival was a true masterpiece that everyone should witness within their lifetime.


On Thursday June 1st 2023, the morning prior to the festival, Calderon’s Charities of America Broadcasting Network was planning to meet with Mrs. Grotenhuis for the set-up instructions. But before that could happen, CCOABN had to first deal with the morning rush hour. The journey itself felt like an absolute nightmare as the network battled with cars being pulled over, drivers cutting each other off in lanes, and trucks nearly taking up three quarters of the highway. This caused  CCOABN to arrive at 10 A.M. rather than the original set time, 9:30 A.M. Yet, despite arriving at a later time, Mrs. Grotenhuis exchanged a warm smile and directed CCOABN while she never skipped a beat in her performance.


At first, Mrs. Grotenhuis was hesitant about CCOABN assisting, seeing as she has been doing this for over 23 years. But, Bishop Junior, The President of The Broadcasting Network, had reminded Mrs. Grotenhuis that they were a team and that they were here to assist by any means necessary. Thankfully, the message was received as the network provided assistance wherever she needed.. The team finished at 11AM, having enough time for the network to sit down with Mrs. Grotenhuis and talk about the upcoming festival and her thoughts about it. When asked about the origins of the festival, Mrs. Grotenhuis replied,


“When my husband and I first created the festival, our sole purpose was to bring out the best in people. We always had an admiration for being cheerleaders of everybody and hot air balloons were our way of doing that.”


The interview finished 15 minutes after noon. Not much was left to assist with seeing as the hot air balloons did not arrive yet as well as other equipment that were going to be needed.  Thus, allowing time to take in the scenery and learn more about Warren County, specifically about the Warren Community College and the residents that lived here. Before leaving Warren County, CCOABN decided to travel around the area, traveling to Warren Deli & Grill and the Apgar’s Cider’s Press. Shortly after the team headed back, ending the day off in wait for the next.


Friday June 02, 2023, arrived, and as a tradition, the network left 2 hours in advance in order to reserve good parking for the festival. Excitement was growing steady by steady. Cars began to pull in from one end to the other as thrills started to form on people's faces.. There was a small chance of rain hinted at by the forecast but that did not stop guests from coming and having a great time. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the broadcasting network. The tent the team brought for the festival had got destroyed by the heavy winds almost an hour after it was set up. The network needed to purchase a generator as services for the network weren't working properly. With a time crutch in mind, it became a race to see how fast the network could get everything ready. Nevertheless, like always, the team prevailed as President Bishop Junior kept everything in line and the network running smoothly. It was a great thing this happened as issues started to surface with the music band, School of Rock. They were having issues with their generator and asked if they could connect their extension cords to the network’s generator. Despite everything which happened, no rain had touched the ground. Sadly, the hot air balloons were not able to go up as planned. While it was hard to deny the disappointment in guest’s faces, there was a hope in what tomorrow would bring.


Saturday, June 03, 2023, came and of course the network arrived at their usual time to set up. The winds were much stronger prior to yesterday with no sign of it slowing down. Following after the arrival of the network were the spectators, entertainment vendors, food trucks, and of course, the guests. The winds were too strong at the time to start setting up the hot air balloons. In spite of this, many guests found themselves gravitating towards Phydeaux's Flying Flea Circus. Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus is a 19th Century Old Show created by George Esparza. Inspired by a flea market that took place in 1965 and his love for entertainment, Mr. Esparza created the flying flea circus as his way of merging both his passions together, creating what we know today. At the beginning of his career, he pursued a degree in IT as he was looking for a job in the field. During this time, he specialized in telling jokes and would perform in the streets, making people laugh and be in awe wherever he went. Overtime, he realized his true passion was through making children smile and providing joy to families nationwide. With over 24 years under its belt, Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus has a rich history, as it first started out as both an entertainment and shop. While Mr. Esperaza performed for children, he would sell medicine to the adults. At the time, fleas were a major issue and not everyone knew how to treat the disease. So Mr. Esparaza's idea was to sell medicine while also performing and make a mark for it, not only satisfying the children’s needs but adults who dealt with fleas for a long period of time. Thus, distinguishing his name from the crowd and making his mark in the history of entertainment.


Alongside the Flea Circus, there was a lot more entertainment that guests could look forward to on the sidelines. Such as, a table dedicated to drones, where you could see and even test them out, a military stand dedicated in selling merchandise in support for veterans coming out of the army, games that put your imaginative and thinking skills to the test, shops all around where you could wander to your heart’s content, as well as sponsored brands such as T-Mobile, who in support of the Warren County Hot Air Balloon Festival, was doing a raffle for a free tether balloon ride. The raffle was in celebration towards the announcement of T-Mobile’s 5G coming to Washington, Warren County, New Jersey. In suit of this, President Bishop Junior asked for an interview to spread awareness, in which T-Mobile happily agreed. There were a series of interviews conducted, including one with Mrs. Grotenhuis, as CCOABN was here to promote and spread awareness about the event as well as extend a helping hand to those who did not have as big of an audience.


Around noon, the question “Are the balloons going up?” started to circulate. Pressured, the spectators could not get a definitive answer. As they knew the weather itself was unpredictable. By a miracle though, the clouds finally broke, allowing the sky to show. At 5 P.M. a balloon was started filling with hot air for the tether balloon rides. The Broadcasting Network had the opportunity to have one of their members volunteer to be one of the testers for the hot air balloon. The crowd looked in awe as the tether balloon went up. Children ran back and forth through the field as they tried to get a good view of the balloon. Guests in line were filled with a mix of emotions; some excited and some nervous. However, when the ride was finished, they all shared a look which said “I’m glad I got to experience this''. Nevertheless, while this was happening, the show, Balloonimation, was in its final stages of preparation and getting ready to take center stage.


Five minutes before 6 P.M. hit, six balloons started to fill with hot air. A chunk of the field was cut off to preserve space to allow the balloons to inflate. Each one had their own unique distinction, some having the traditional logos such as the RE/MAX while others featured creative designs such as a sunset filled with tropical birds in a jungle. They were grounded side to side with each other. The sun had set, and the show went underway. The Balloonimation featured all time classic themes from Star Wars to even noteworthy themes such as the Pink Panther. The balloons performed in synchronization matching the notes of the themes.The guests were amazed by the level of performance as all you heard was applause from the crowd. Not all of the balloons were able to stay up as after thirty minutes performing, two balloons had started to deflate. The five balloons made up for what the other two balloons lost as they kept the show running strong. While it wasn’t perfect, the show sent a strong message in what the festival was all about: being present in a show that may be a lifetime experience. The festival ended 15 minutes early as guests had already started to make their way back home. The broadcasting team assisted Mrs. Grotenhuis with any cleanups before heading back themselves, as the final day was approaching.


The final day, June 04 2023, arrived and already the pressure was on. The network struggled to find parking spots as the parking lot was being filled and lines were starting to form. It got so chaotic to the point that one of the network's team members had to help with directing guests to parking. The procedure lasted almost 4-5 hours as guests came in non-stop. Not to mention, both the entertainment and food trucks were dealing with the same treatment as one could barely move through the crowds of people. Eventually, food trucks had announced that they were out of food and the usual wait time for food, which was three to five minutes, became even longer. The question “Are the balloons going up” became louder as time passed while guests were stopping staff in their procedures. All eyes were on Mrs. Grotenhuis as she made it to the final day. Everyone was looking to see how she was going to bring the festival to its finale. Regardless of the stakes she had, Mrs. Grotenhuis put on her usual warm smile as she did what she does best: put on a show. 


Around 5PM, the balloons started to fill with hot air as they were preparing for the show. However, once again, the weather showed itself to be the main enemy as the hot air balloons would shortly deflate. Guests were starting to lose hope for the show as some began packing their stuff and leaving early. Yet, through sheer will and determination, Mrs. Grotenhuis and her team got those balloons up and ready for Warren County to witness. That night was a testament to the power Mrs. Grotenhuis and her team possessed over the hot air balloons. It proved a lesson to everyone that no matter how dim things may look or seem, if there is a will, then there is a way. The show commenced at 7 P.M. and as always, the hot air balloons did their magic. Creating excitement through the crowd and guests applauding while the hot air balloons performed in unison to the song that was being played. All six of the balloons were able to stay up with no deflation whatsoever. The 2023 Warren County Hot Air Balloon Festival proved that in order for you to have something truly precious and truly magical, that it would have to be first tried and tested. And like human beings, hot air balloons were no different.

Thanks to our Balloon Festival Mega Sponsors & Supporters.

Warren Community College
JHM Signs
Warren County Cultural & Heritage
Warren UAS
WRNJ Radio
Balloons Powered by GasTec
NJ 101.5 LOGO 300x200.jpg
NJ Division of Travel and Tourism
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