By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer
If you have been to the Riverton Rendezvous Hot Air Balloon Rally, then you have probably seen the balloon that is the pride and joy of the community. This High flying, hot air filled behemoth is a symbol of the Riverton commitment to community since 1990.
The former owner of The Ranger, Robert A. Peck, started the Riverton Balloon Club and funded the initial purchase of the first Cloud Kisser and in 1994, a second version was needed. After an extensive rebuild in 2013, this year’s stress test failed to yield the results for recertification.
Saddened by the results, longtime pilot Pat Newlin, who has been flying the Cloud Kisser since 1999, began to devise a plan and launched this endeavor. The goal is to sell enough raffle tickets to cover the cost of purchasing a new “envelope” or Balloon. With only 200 tickets available and a prize package worth in excess of $3600, one lucky winner will take home a New Traeger Tailgater Stove, a 55 quart Maluna cooler, and a Shaw Custom 7mm. Mag rifle with a Lucid Optics scope. Also in the package is a balloon ride for two and the knowledge that you have helped to continue a tradition in Riverton that can be seen by thousands as they drink their coffee in the morning and gaze up into the crystal clear sky.
According to Newlin, the actual cost will be in the neighborhood of $28,000 dollars but with some private donations from benefactors, the cost will be covered. Ideally, the new balloon would be ready for the 2022 Balloon Rally on July 15-17 here in Riverton, but because it is a custom order with specific colors and a new banner, we won’t see this magnificent beast until 2023. This year’s event will host about 30 balloons including two Humpty Dumpty character balloons.
Tickets are available now along with sponsorship opportunities for businesses. Ticket prices are $100.00 each for the raffle and can be purchased by calling Pat Newlin at (307) 851-6049 or via email at Patricia.Newlin@gmail.com.