23 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com Since discovering the parade in 2006, Michael Baumrind has worked his way up to the role of “Pilot B,” meaning he stays at the rear of the balloon and provides direction to handlers in the back rows. The two other pilots are Pilot A, who stays a half block in front of the balloon and ensures the wind and path are passable, and the Main Pilot, who stays at the front of the balloon. Pilots and captains communicate with each other and with the vehicle team via headset. All pilots, captains and members of the vehicle team are known as “flight management” and are required to attend at least one field training per year. The day of our chat, Michael was preparing to attend the weekend of October 1, but he would not know his official balloon assignment until October 12. The Baumrind family relocated to Mount Pleasant in 2013, and Jane, who had dropped out of the parade several years prior, went back with her husband — an enthusiastic participant in each parade since 2006. As of 2018, it’s become somewhat of a family affair, Jane said — between herself, Michael and their four grown children, at least half of them are usually there, shepherding airborne balloons as they smile at the crowd in New York City. But out of everyone in the family, Jane says, her husband’s grin is most definitely the broadest. “He stays overnight [in NYC] on Tuesday, and then they inflate the balloon on Wednesday,” she said. “And on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, he’s like a Christmas tree — I cannot explain it. He just loves it so much.” feature Photo prov i ded. The “pi l ot ” team at the Mac y ’s parade. Farmers Market Pavilion Saturday, Dec. 10 11 am - 4 pm Holiday Market & Craft Show #VotetheFloatMP W. Coleman Boulevard Sunday, Dec. 11 5:30 pm Christmas Light Parade ExperienceMountPleasant.com/play Where does Santa spend the holidays?