updated: 5/5/2009 5:35:22 PM

Conner Prairie's Newest Exhibit Takes Flight

InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

Conner Prairie is preparing to launch its new $2.2 million 1859 Balloon Voyage exhibit. More than 40 volunteers have started the process of inflating the balloon, which is three times the size of a basketball court and shares the record for the world's largest balloon. Beginning June 6, families can take flight 350 feet in the air. Ricker Oil Co. is the title sponsor of the exhibit.

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Source: Inside INdiana Business

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Press Release

FISHERS, Ind. (May 5, 2009) – Interactive history park Conner Prairie began inflation today on its newest immersion experience, a helium-filled, tethered balloon that will allow guests to voyage 350 feet in the air. As the only balloon of its kind, set in a historical context, in the United States, the balloon along with the interactive aviation exhibit provides a new opportunity for families to learn about the science of aviation through the lens of history.

“1859 Balloon Voyage will tell the remarkable story of how the first successful delivery of air mail via balloon happened to occur in Indiana,” said Ellen M. Rosenthal, Conner Prairie president & CEO. “Our exhibit will, in the Conner Prairie way, be based on painstaking historic research, some of which was conducted in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute. It will place visitors at Courthouse Square in Lafayette in 1859 as the balloon rises.”

Construction on this $2.2 million exhibit began in January, while the balloon itself arrived last week from France. Balloon rollout and set-up began today, Tuesday, May 5 at 8 a.m. The un-inflated balloon is a total of 17,700 square feet—three times the size of a basketball court—and shares the record for the world’s largest balloon. It will use 1,500 feet of rope and take 210,000 cubic feet of helium to inflate. More than 40 volunteers with 400 sand bags are on hand to hold down the balloon until it is tethered to the ground.

Conner Prairie also announced today the title sponsor for this exhibit—Ricker Oil Company. Ricker’s owns and operates 19 BP am/pm convenience stores in the Indianapolis market and 30 Ricker-branded sites throughout the greater Indianapolis area. Founded in 1979 by Jay and Nancy Ricker, the family-owned company is best known for its famous Ricker’s Pop. They will be offering discount coupons for 1859 Balloon Voyage at participating BP am/pm stores in the greater Indianapolis area including Anderson and Ft. Wayne.

“Ricker’s is proud to sponsor such an extraordinary exhibit with Conner Prairie,” said Jay Ricker, owner of Ricker Oil Company. “During these difficult economic times, we are also pleased to offer a discount, so that the balloon voyage may be more affordable to all families.”

“We are delighted to partner with BP am/pm to make the 1859 Balloon Voyage experience possible for our guests,” said Rosenthal. “Providing discount coupons is an example of extraordinary corporate citizenship that we appreciate greatly.”

Conner Prairie’s 1859 Balloon Voyage will open to the public on June 6. The weekend will be filled with fun and engaging festivities to commemorate and celebrate Conner Prairie’s transformation through this unique experience. Media will have an opportunity to take part in an advanced flight during Conner Prairie’s media days on June 2 and 3. Please contact Angela Tuell to set up a flight time and arrange interviews on either of those days.

Source: Conner Prairie

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