Search for Reported Lost Balloon Turns up Nothing; Jubilee Organizers Thrilled with Turnout

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Organizers of the Alabama Jubilee Festival in Decatur spent Monday morning cleaning up after what they called a successful event.

That's despite reports of a white balloon going down in Limestone County over the weekend.

WHNT News 19 tracked down what came of a search by authorities Sunday night.

Aside from excessive heat and a lack of wind over the weekend, event organizers were very pleased with the two-day event.

WHNT News 19's Beth Jett asks, "Any injuries or malfunctions in this festival?"
"None whatsoever," said Robert Reid, President of the Alabama Jubilee Festival.  "Very successful."

Reid admitted he heard someone had reported seeing a white balloon go down.

Concern over it quickly ballooned online through posts to Facebook.

"They saw a white balloon at a fast rate of speed descending," said Reid.  "We have no white balloons."

Authorities in Limestone County searched the area of Pepper and Nick Davis Roads Sunday night.

"About 11 o'clock, something like that, lots of helicopters with search lights, running about half mile to a mile each way up and down," said Leonard Westbrook, a Limestone County resident who was getting ready to go to sleep for the night.

The search turned up nothing.

Festival organizers confirmed all of their pilots were accounted for.

"Our balloon meister made contact with every pilot and every pilot confirmed that they were back safe and sound and no issues," said Reid.

He was thrilled at the turnout of nearly 40,000 people each day who came to see the 64 balloons and one stunt man.

Jason Elliston, 23, of Columbus, Georgia, rode on top of a balloon for a thrill.

"Going up I didn't know if I could hold on all the way, so it was a little scary," said Elliston.

But he did and said it was his first stunt ever, which he would gladly do again.

"It was pretty cool," Elliston said.

And that's what organizers hope for next year: maybe cooler weather and a little more wind blowing away from the river.

This was the 35th year for the event.  Organizers say Decatur is considered the balloon capital of Alabama.

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