HUDSON FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Last week, B.J. Sullivan – now a resident of Nashville, Tennessee – paid a visit to his own home school district of Hudson Falls. It’s not uncommon to return to the school where one spent one’s childhood years – but maybe less likely to do so while toting a hot air balloon.
Sullivan, who graduated from Hudson Falls in 2004, came to his hometown last week for the Adirondack Balloon Festival, held in Queensbury and Glens Falls. Every year that he attends, he does so as a balloonist. Whenever he can, he takes some time, to share his passion with the younger generations.
“I enjoy doing the school presentations at the start of the festival because that’s how I got into ballooning at a very young age,” said Sullivan, speaking to NEWS10 from the 16-hour car ride back to Nashville. “If I had not been exposed to ballooning the way I was, my life would have taken a very different trajectory. Not that that’s a bad thing, but my ballooning interest got me my first job out of college.”
That first job took Sullivan to a ballooning experience in Indiana, where he met his wife and got further invested in the hobby. He’s brought his love of hot air balloons to Glens Falls’ school buildings, but this year was his first bringing his blue-and-purple hot air balloon to his hometown district.
And so it came to pass that, last Wednesday, Sullivan parked and inflated his balloon outside Hudson Falls Intermediate School, and let the school’s current student body take a gander and ask questions. 4th- and 5th-graders heard a presentation on principles like density, buoyancy, and lift, and how those allow a balloon to fly. The visit was also a chance for Sullivan to reconnect with one of his childhood teachers.
“My 5th-grade teacher (Chris Kugler) is one year away from retirement,” Sullivan said. “It was really cool to see him again. It’s cool to have your 5th-grade teacher there for something like that. I’ve come a long way from being in his classroom.”
The entire 4th- and 5th-grade student body of Hudson Falls Intermediate School came out to see the balloon. Sullivan said their questions were full of curiosity.
This year marked the 50th of the Adirondack Balloon Festival, now considered the third-largest festival of its kind in the United States. This year’s festivities were rung in with a birthday cake-shaped balloon, which, along with Sullivan’s balloon and more than 70 more, took to the skies over Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport and Crandall Park. See photos at news10.com.