Mount Pleasant Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

21 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com she had to report back to him how much fun it was: “I felt like Mick Jagger on stage at Madison Square Garden — the crowd goes crazy, the adrenaline kicks in, people are screaming as you go in front of Macy’s … then it’s over, and we turn the corner and deflate the balloon. But you’re still on that high and want to do it again. I said to my husband, you would really like this; it’s so cool.” The following year, both Jane and Michael were balloon handlers. The role of a parade balloon handler is just what it sounds like — controlling a giant balloon. But it’s not just handlers who manage these balloons. Because they are so enormous, each balloon has its own entire team of people assigned to it. That team includes three pilots, who manage the balloon and the flying environment; captains, who coach the balloon handlers; and, of course, the handlers themselves, who literally hold onto the strings with a handle. So, how high do these gigantic balloons fly to require a team this large? It depends on the size and type of the balloon, but, according to the Baumrinds, they can soar as high as 55 feet — and they can be as wide as almost an entire city street. Fortunately, the parade runs like clockwork, says Jane, and each participant is keenly aware of position and timing. feature