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Hot air balloons returning to Mistlin Park
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Color the Skies is back for 2014 with the promise of being better than ever.

After a one-year hiatus sans the hot air balloons, the two-day event planned for the Labor Day weekend returns to the Mistlin Sports Park, equipped with the carnival, activities, and space for 120 vendors.

Ripon City Council on Tuesday granted a request from organizer Jessica Coleman to waive the facility-use fee tallying $3,500. Work will include removing excess dirt from the $4.5 million softball fields.

At the same time, elected leaders are open to the idea that a softball or baseball tournament can also be held during the same weekend of Color the Skies featuring an array of hot air balloons while benefiting Children’s Hospital of Central California.

“I think both events can co-exist, if done right,” said Councilman Leo Zuber.

Coleman and Danielle Pierce, who is secretary of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, recently worked on the illustrated map of the city to help promote the event.

“It’s full of color, vivid and animated,” said Coleman. “There’s not a lot of detail but it’s easy to find places in town.”

She added, “We’re trying to create an awareness of downtown to our out-of-town visitors – this is an excellent way.”

Advertisement – Coleman noted that 50 businesses were involved including 92 percent being local – along with donations from both the Chamber and the non-profit Color the Skies helped foot the bill for the 15,000 maps. Council members received their copies of the map during the meeting while the Chamber is scheduled to get its share of 5,000 maps this week.

Mayor Chuck Winn looked favorably at a copy of the Ripon map belonging to Vice Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt. “It reminds me of (a map of) Disneyland,” he said.

Coleman credited Chamber President Janelle Zuidervaart and her husband Ken Zuidervaart, who is the City’s Planning Director, for their assistance on the map. “Ken and Janelle made sure of the accuracy (on the name of roads and places),” she said.

Since this was the first-ever attempt, Coleman, who referred to it as a “destination map,” is hoping it can be updated each year.

In addition, she announced Ripon High senior Sabrina Wright as the first-ever recipient of the Color the Skies Youth Volunteer Leadership Award.

Coleman said that this scholarship will eventually help Wright pay for her college books.