Special to Iredell Free News
For more than 40 years, Statesville has been the backdrop for some of the most colorful skies in the world – thanks to the city’s long-time connection to hot air ballooning. This relationship has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, provided a home and livelihood for dozens of balloon pilots and related businesses, and produced legendary craftsmen and pilots.
For these reasons – and more – Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh has proclaimed Statesville as the “Ballooning Capital of the East.”
During Monday’s City Council meeting, the mayor thanked the local balloon pilots and supporters for their contributions in making this area renowned for hot air ballooning and recognized the contributions of Don Cline and Bill Meadows, devoted champions for the art and sport of hot air ballooning.
Kutteh noted that there are more than 20 licensed hot air balloon pilots and students in the Greater Statesville area and credited the “perfect year-round weather and breath-taking backdrops” for making Statesville the ideal location for year-round launches. The N.C. General Assembly recently recognized the Carolina BalloonFest, the second longest running hot air balloon festival in the country, as the Official Hot Air Balloon Rally of North Carolina.
The proclamation was presented at Monday night’s City Council meeting. It was originally read during a special weekend recently that highlighted Statesville’s tourist attractions.
“We are proud to be a hot air ballooning community,” said Kutteh, “and look forward to many more years of bright-colored skies.”