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Bullwinkle and Cork The Puppy are visiting from Brazil and making their debut at the Balloon Fiesta this year. There are also ten new special shapes, including Freddie the Fox and a baby dinosaur. There is also a handful of others that are sure to be a hit with the kids like a soccer ball with sunglasses and a colorful unicorn.
Scott Monahan and his twin brother Todd own Monahan Airways in New York. They designed the sloth hot air balloon. The brothers along with the help of Scott’s daughter also designed another popular special shape balloon, Allycorn the unicorn. “My 4-year-old daughter came home from school with this drawing, it looked kind of cool and I said, ‘man…I could really change that around to look like a balloon,'” said Scott Monahan.
Allycorn will be back this year along with Darth Vadar and the bee family balloons. Balloon Fiesta officials have been working to recruit special shape balloon pilots from around the world. This year its been a challenge because of the pandemic. “Our total number of special shapes is a little lower than normal this year because of some of the travel restrictions we have experienced with some of our international pilots,” said Sam Parks, Balloon Fiesta director of operations.
This year there will be 83 special shape balloons. Special shape balloons stand out in the sky and can be seven stories tall. They are also costly to make. “A regular round shape balloon, you’re looking around $50,000 to have that balloon and full setup,” said Scott Monahan. “For a special shape balloon, you’re looking around $100,000.”
Monahan says they keep their creations for three to five years, then sell the balloons. After, they come up with new shapes to please the crowd. “I’ve flown in New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and there’s no place like [Balloon] Fiesta and taking off with the roar of the crowd.
This year’s Special Shape Rodeo is on Thursday, Oct. 7, and Friday, Oct. 8.