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Heather Strickland and her daughter Summer got up at 5:30 a.m. Saturday to get in line for a hot air balloon ride on Oregon State University’s Memorial Union Quad.

Strickland said that from their house in Albany they see balloons flying in the Northwest Art & Air Festival each August, and Summer has wanted the chance to ride in one for years, but they’ve never been able to make it happen. When Strickland heard about the balloon rides being offered as a part of OSU’s Family Weekend, she said it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The pair got to take the first flight of the day.

“I think it was really special because she’s wanted to do it for a long time,” Strickland said.

Summer said it was fun to finally get to fly in a hot air balloon.

“It’s kind of like a Ferris wheel, but you’re not attached to the ground.

Connor Grover, one of the student organizers of the event, said the committee hoped to give about 70 people the chance to fly Saturday and another 85 the chance to fly today, when the balloon rides will again be offered for $10 a person from 7 to 10 a.m., if the weather allows it.

Grover said hot air balloon rides have been offered during past spring Family Weekends at OSU, but it’s been years since the flights have been included in the weekend’s events.

He said student organizing committees wanted to bring the flights back this year because it would be a big event, but also be relatively simple to organize.

They arranged for Mark Trujillo, a Corvallis resident who operates Willamette Valley Ballooning, to bring his balloon to the event to offer tethered flights, meaning the balloon went up multiple times with a few people aboard and then landed back in the quad, with lines securing it to the ground to keep the balloon from being carried away on the wind.

Grover, a third-year student in marketing, said Family Weekend events like this balloon flights are intended to give families visiting students on campus cool ways to experience campus.

Sydney Rivas, a senior in religious studies whose parents visited this weekend, said she enjoyed getting to fly in a hot air balloon.

“It was really fun. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” she said.

She said added that campus is very beautiful from above.

“I went parasailing in Hawaii a few years ago and it’s sort of similar because it’s very calm,” she said.

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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