Sunday, September 20, 2009

Glowing, Glowing...Gone

Friday night was the first opportunity that Bobby and I have had to explore St. Louis and go out on the town. So, we prepared ourselves for a fun evening at Forest Park, taking in the festivities of the “balloon glow” to be held that evening, an aspect of the famous hot air balloon race to take place the following day. That evening, the balloons were to be lit and inflated for spectators to see; it sounded like a good idea to be among them.

We were not the only ones with this idea. We left our apartment at 7:10 p.m. for what we thought was to be a 25-minute drive to the park. We did not get out of our cars until 8:40 p.m., after driving ever so slowly for miles and miles, and finally navigating our way to a parking spot at the festival. Mind you, the balloons were only to be lit until 8:30 p.m. By this point, we were overwhelmed by the traffic and frustrated for missing it all, thinking, “maybe we’ll at least make it in time for the fireworks at 9:00 p.m.”.

The park was swarming with people headed in every direction. It was dark. We had no idea where we should have been heading and didn’t see any signage for this particular event. Although we had wanted to quit the little adventure we were having far earlier, we had come too far to turn around.

We spotted a group of people who looked like they knew where they were going. Off we went, following closely behind this group along a dark forest path, the little boy ahead of us lighting the way with his glowing light saber. About 7 minutes later we realized that they did know where they were going. They knew exactly how to get to…their cars. The little boy said to his dad, “I want to go home”, to which his dad replied, “we are”. Bobby and I stopped simultaneously, turned toward each other, and realized that we had to turn around, in the midst of all these people, and go back the other way. What a night. It was comedic, really! We should have known. Most people don’t carry souvenir glow sticks INTO an event.

We kept walking, and did find the balloon glow, although by 8:57 p.m. there was little glow left. We sat down just in time to enjoy the brief, albeit beautiful, fireworks display.

We were back in our cars by 9:17 p.m., a mere 37 minutes after arriving. Traffic was like nothing we’d ever seen, and we crawled, if moving at all, for 43 minutes, just trying to get out of the park. It was 11:00 p.m., 1 hour and 43 minutes later, when we pulled into our driveway.

It wasn’t the evening we expected. Although we DID get to do some good people-watching, we DID learn about navigating St. Louis traffic, we DID somehow find ourselves in the middle of the Delmar Loop on our way home (an area we’d wanted to explore), and we DID get to spend a LOT of uninterrupted time together. And, we CAN say that we went to the balloon glow!

I imagine that we will venture out onto the St. Louis social scene again sometime soon. There is much more to see and do, and surely we can find activities that aren’t quite so appealing to the masses. The balloon glow looked like a fun time and we may try it again next year. Or, then again, maybe not.

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