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TUSTIN : Hot-Air Balloon Festival Is Relocated

August 15, 1994|ALAN EYERLY

Relocating a hot-air balloon festival venue farther from a Tustin neighborhood has deflated fears of many residents about the event, which will feature performances by the Beach Boys, Randy Travis and America.

The three-day festival will be staged farther away from a residential area than had been planned, and one of the proposed parking lots has been eliminated.

Approval for the Smith's Festival of Ballooning was unanimously granted at a special meeting of the city License and Permit Board last week, after event organizers addressed concerns about traffic, parking, noise and safety.

The festival will be held Sept. 23 to 25 near Tustin Ranch Golf Course on an undeveloped parcel owned by the Irvine Co. The major sponsors are Smith's Food and Drug Centers and the Irvine Co.

A main attraction of the festival will be mass launches of up to 150 hot-air balloons in the early morning and late afternoon. Each night there will be balloon "glows," in which tethered balloons are illuminated by internal bursts of flame.

Those flames have been a source of concern for some Tustin Ranch residents, who worry that a ballooning accident could cause a fire. Neighbors have also expressed concerns about noise, litter, traffic jams and festival-goers parking in residential neighborhoods. Up to 60,000 spectators are expected over the course of the three-day event.

Many of the worries were allayed recently when the festival organizer, Korff Enterprises in Irvine, decided to move the festival away from homes near Pioneer and Peters Canyon roads. Concerns also decreased after the License and Permit Board disallowed a parking lot next to Pioneer Road.

The festival will be held on a 30-acre, triangular-shaped site bounded by Tustin Ranch Road, Jamboree Road and Portola Parkway. The new siting was welcome news to Jim Pelachik, president of the Serrano Homeowners Assn.

Pelachik said tensions "dropped dramatically" among his neighbors after the ballooning festival was moved south. "It could turn out to be a very nice affair," he said.

Pam Manazer, treasurer of the Presidio Homeowners Assn., said her neighbors are "rallying around" the festival now that they feel it is "far enough away to be safe."

One person who is unhappy about the new location, however, is Sally Ann Miller. She lives on South Riviera near the golf course. "Everything that got moved away from you got moved toward me," Miller said.

Event organizer John Korff offered assurances that the festival will be a safe, family-oriented affair that will provide fund-raising opportunities for the Boys and Girls Club of Tustin and the Tustin Schools Foundation.

Children's activities will include pony rides, a petting zoo, storytelling and POG tournaments.

"We're not looking to bring the wrong element around," said Korff, who also holds balloon festivals in New Mexico and New Jersey. By booking "mellow" musical groups, he expects to draw peaceful crowds.

"We're not having Metallica and AC/DC," Korff said.

He predicted that the typical spectator will be a 40-year-old father who brings his young children to watch hot-air balloons float away as the Beach Boys launch into "Good Vibrations."

Residents who have questions about the festival can call a 24-hour hot line at (714) 753-4560.

For general information, call (714) 753-4680.

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