Local enthusiast attends International Balloon Fiesta

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Bellaire's Gordy Schafer, owner of The Dockside Bar and Grill in Clam River, visited the renowned Buddhist "White Temple" in Chiang Rai, Thailand along with other sites, during his visit last month to an international hot air balloon festival. 


Courtesy photo

Pictured is the festival's signature "Night Glow," when all of the balloons attending the festival launch into the evening sky as part of the international event. 


BELLAIRE – When most area residents travel for spring vacation, they head to Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean.

Gordy Schafer, owner of The Dockside Bar and Grill in Clam River, usually does that, too. But not this year. 

Instead, he went to Thailand.

"Most people have a bucket list," Schafer said earlier this week. "I have a ‘basket’ list."

By basket he means a hot air balloon basket – attached to his own “Whimsical” vessel, and those belonging to friends, who last month attended an international hot air balloon festival in northern Thailand.

The largest gathering of balloonists in southeast Asia, the "International Balloon Fiesta," which this year drew more than 30 balloons, pilots and crews from throughout the world, convenes annually in the city of Chiang Rai, at the picturesque Singha Park, created in 2012 to promote both tourism and Thailand's agricultural industry.

This year's event, a hot air balloon invitational that was free to spectators and open to the public, was held Feb. 14-18.

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