Hot Air Balloons float over Lisle

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The eyes to the skies festival heats up in Lisle this weekend, featuring hot air balloons of all kinds-the classic look as well as cartoon-like characters. (WLS)

The Eyes to the Skies festival heats up in Lisle this weekend, featuring hot air balloons of all kinds-the classic look as well as cartoon-like characters.

"It's an art and a science and there's some luck and everything involved," said the Bimbo balloon's pilot, John Petrehn, of what it takes to make these massive contraptions fly.

The two-time world champion pilot and others at the festival Friday morning continually flooded the balloons with hot air to keep them aloft, but still tied to the ground.

"That's about all of the control I have. I turn the burner on and I warm the air in the balloon up. And if it's warm enough, it'll lift me and the passengers up in the basket and we go up," Petrehn explained from his balloon's basket, adding, "I maneuver the balloon to different altitudes to try to find some different wind currents and directions and steer us to a nice, suitable place to land."

"You see kids waving and yelling... It's pretty magical," he said of the experience he's had for decades.

Though most balloons are for display only this weekend, visitors can do more than just look. You can go up for a tethered ride yourself every morning and evening weather permitting throughout the festival.

"It was cool that it went super high," said 8-year-old Elsie Boyle after going up in a balloon with her family.

"There's fireworks and music going on so it's really a fun festival we encourage everyone to come out to," Petrehn added, shortly before a trio of skydivers descended upon the balloon field.

Exploring the displays gives festival-goers a chance to take in the whimsical balloons floating in the wind for a new kind of weekend getaway. Eyes to the Skies lifts off Friday at 3 p.m.
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community-eventssummer funballoon festivalLisle
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