Last year we made a somewhat fruitless drive to Centralia, Illinois, for their annual balloon festival. Nasty weather prevented all but one balloon from inflating — and that balloon was quickly taken down thanks to the blustery conditions. I feared a repeat as we left for Centralia last night in a thunderstorm. But lo and behold, as we left St. Louis behind, the rain subsided. We arrived at this great little park and we and got to see this… 
Conditions prevented the balloons from lifting off (reason for the * above), but they were able to inflate. We were able to get up close and personal as the crews went through the process of putting these bad boys in the air. It’s quite an ordeal. Below they’re inflating a clown fish that looks like Nemo. His name is actually Wally, but the little kids in the area didn’t care. He was Nemo to them.
When we arrived at the park, there wasn’t a single balloon in the air. But little by little, the area filled with beautiful designs and vibrant colors until the entire lake was covered with gorgeous reflections. 
It was hard to take a bad photo with everything that was going on at the festival. But some of my favorites came from the Hipstamatic, which I’ll post separately.

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