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Go fly a kite at Mistlin Sports Park

Color the Skies hot air balloons on one year hiatus

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POSTED April 3, 2013 1:29 a.m.

This year’s ‘Color the Skies’ will be an abbreviated version.

In this case, no hot air balloons, sky divers, or vendors, but rather running events followed by a kite show at Mistlin Sports Park on Aug. 31.

Jessica Coleman promises the hot air balloons will be back for 2014.

At Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting, she listed the current construction of the softball fields at Mistlin as one reason for the change.

“We didn’t want to compete with that,” said Coleman, who, along with her husband Greg, founded this non-profit hot air balloon event in 2006.

All proceeds go to the Children’s Hospital of Central California in Madera County. Last year’s event raised $130,000 for the cause and featured 20 hot air balloons, 45 vendors and 600 volunteers.

Compare that to the early years of ‘Color the Skies’ with nine hot air balloons and just six vendors.

Council granted Coleman’s waiver request for use of Mistlin – $1,250 for that one day – coupled with support from the City of Ripon with a website link to help promote the event.

Elected leaders held off on her request to waive next year’s fees for Mistlin until further notice. Councilman Leo Zuber, for one, is looking to weigh in on the built-in cost to operate the facility, seeking information from Kye Stevens, who is the recreation director.

Cost for non-profit use of Mistlin is $3,500 plus a $2,500 deposit for ‘Color the Skies’ organizers. “We paid that our last four years,” said Coleman, who added that no fees were accessed during the first three years of the event.

She’s looking to bring on an event director for next year’s ‘Color the Skies’ while possibly starting a Ripon Community Foundation. Coleman hopes that some of the proceeds can go locally to, say, the Ripon Unified School District.

“We’re still committed to Children’s Hospital,” she said.

Because of the abbreviated version, Coleman indicated that volunteers and vendors are not being sought for this year.

Instead, ‘Color the Skies’ will open with 10K and 5K runs at 8 a.m. followed by a children’s ¼ mile fun run at 9:30.

The kite show is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Overall, the impact will not be as great as the previous year,” Coleman said.

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