The Hot Air Balloon Festival kicks off Vernon Winter Carnival today

The Hot Air Balloon Festival kicks off Vernon Winter Carnival today

AT RANDOM: Carnival crushes winter blues

Vernon Winter Carnival comes at a perfect time to break up the blahs of the season

It’s bad enough that February is already one of the most depressing times of the year, now it’s made even worse with all this worldly hate and fear in the mix. But at least here in Vernon there’s something to break up all this bad news and winter blues Winter Carnival!

I used to think it was such a strange time of year to have a carnival why not do it in spring or summer, heck even fall would be beautiful. But when you think about it, Vernon Winter Carnival comes at the perfect time to perk our spirits.

The wide range and sheer number of events means there’s something for everyone, whether you like to party, take in a performance, have a laugh or show your spirit Canada’s 150th for this year.

One of my first memories of Carnival was actually the sadness of missing it, as I always seemed to be out of town staying at my dad’s for Super Bowl weekend. I was in Grade 3 when my mom, brother and I moved to Vernon and since I didn’t get to see my dad too often it was hard to say no. But I do recall the excitement of taking in my first Carnival parade and thinking, ‘now I know what all the hype was about!’

A few years later I entered the ice sculpture contest with some of my BX Elementary school mates. The theme, I recall, was Carnival of the World, so we tried our hand at carving the Eiffel Tower. To my surprise, and delight, we won! It was so thrilling and I’m sure I have the first place ribbon tucked away somewhere still. While the ice sculpture contest is no longer, you can check out some real talent up at Silver Star where the B.C. Championship Snow Sculpture Competition takes place today through Sunday.

Hot air ballooning was (and is) another highlight for me quite literally.

My family was often involved in helping out with the balloons as crew members. So as a kid I was lucky enough to get a ride in one of the gentle giants, and my favourite one at that the pink ice cream shaped balloon.

It was just me, the pilot and a friend of my mom’s, soaring the skies over Armstrong/Spallumcheen. After some time we spotted a field near Otter Lake to land but our crew was out of sight, so the pilot landed and tried to find the owner to make sure it was OK for us to land. Unfortunately the balloon was not tied down properly and we started to drift minus the pilot. He ran after us but the balloon got away.

Since I was too short to even reach the burners (which control the balloon’s vertical direction), the lady took over with direction via radio from the ground. Despite a near lake landing, we made it back to the ground albeit a bit of a rough landing.

I escaped with a few bumps and bruises, one hysterical mother and an overly apologetic pilot who even sent me a special mug, T-shirt, key chain and other balloon paraphernalia.

Although it was scary it’s an awesome memory I look back on and laugh at now. And yes, I’d get right back in a balloon again especially if the ice cream balloon came back to town.