Rich and Patti Miers work together as husband and wife while volunteering for Havasu Balloon Fest. Their task is coordinating balloon field activities and entertainment.
“I needed something to do when I retired,” Patti Miers said. “Before I volunteered, I did not come down to the balloon field. It’s so cool because you can see the balloons from in town of watch them from the Bridge. But, the field is a completely different feel.”
The experience of seeing the hot air balloons up close and talking with the balloon pilots isn’t an experience that is achieved from watching from the London Bridge.
“It’s amazing,” Patti Miers said. “You have to be on the field to really get that feeling.”
Patti Miers has been volunteering with the local Balloon Fest for four years. Her duties begin to ramp up each August. Biweekly meetings ensue until the event each January. The weeks before the event bring a lull as all must be in place by Thanksgiving in order for the programs to be printed in early December. Her husband, Rich Miers, has volunteered at her side for three years.
“When I was with Interagency, we received a lot of funding from Balloon Fest for Big Brothers Big Sisters and for the Food Bank,” Rich Miers said. “Once I retired, I thought this would be a good way to give back.”
Rich Miers, who was the president/CEO of Interagency Council for 18 years, takes care of the classic car and makes sure all is in order for the Kids Zone, which is the Balloon Fest’s youth education center. He retired from the nonprofit in 2013.
“I think the greatest thing about Balloon Fest is that you can walk right up to the basket and really get a sense of what it’s really like,” Rich Miers said. “There is so much to do here with the vendors and the live entertainment, too.”
The Miers said it takes about 2,500 volunteers over four days to make Balloon Fest happen. This year, they were shy of that number.
Volunteer efforts for the event include traffic, parking and shuttles – the largest of the volunteer-run efforts; booking entertainment and hosting the entertainers at the main stage to ensure all is occurring on time; collecting trash; organizing hotel rooms for the many pilots and their crews; booking the vendors; and providing VIP service in the pilot’s tent.
The Marine Corps League Detachment 757 provides volunteers for security detail on the balloon field. They work together with on-foot patrols provided by Lake Havasu City Police Department. The LHCPD also provides traffic support.
Community Emergency Response Team provides volunteers for the first aid station.
The Boy Scouts provide volunteers to walk with a bucket and pinchers while collecting bits of trash that weren’t tossed into the receptacles or that the wind has overcome.
The four-day event is a charity fundraiser hosted by the Lions and Rotary clubs in town. Proceeds are presented to several nonprofit organizations that provide help for citizens in need in Havasu.
The committees will begin to plan for the 2018 event on the heels of the 2017 event. For more information about volunteering, visit www.havasuballoonfest.com.