Inside the Basket - Jonathan Abdalla, Chasers' Club
Jonathan Abdalla has been involved with Balloon Fiesta for many years. Since 1988, he has been involved with everything from designing pins to greeting guests.
In this month’s Inside the Basket, learn more about how this Balloon Fiesta veteran got his start with the event, his current role and his favorite guest tips.
- Give a brief overview of your Balloon Fiesta role.
I greet guests who come to Balloon Fiesta on tour buses. I process them into Chasers’ Club by scanning their pre-purchased tickets, giving them instructions on how to navigate, explore and enjoy the event. Most are firsttimers who are excited to be here. I answer questions and assist with directions to certain vendors when the balloons have taken to the skies.
- How did you become involved with Balloon Fiesta?
It started back in 1988 when I was designing and vending balloon pins. I spent 30 years designing pins and patches for both the event and individual pilots. I forged a lot of great relationships with both Balloon Fiesta staff and pilots over the years. When I hung up pin designing in 2017, I was asked by Shamaine Giannini from Chasers’ Club to help greet guests who came in on bus tours. I have always adored the event since a child. To be a part of Balloon Fiesta is hard work but knowning you made people happy and assisting casts a new light working the event.
- What is your favorite part about being involved with Chasers’ Club?
Greeting people who have never been to Balloon Fiesta. Seeing the smiles and hearing the excitement from the spectators. Kids of all ages (1 to 100) always marvel at this spectacular visual event. Knowing I am a small part of this process is satisfying.
- What expereince do you hope to provide to Chasers’ Club attendees?
Since I have been in and around the event, pilots and vendors for decades, I have been able to answer a lot of questions that are asked. These questions range from event history, pilot information, weather, balloons, what kind of items to purchase on concession row, etc. I am always happy to help.
- What advice do you have for Balloon Fiesta guests visiting for the first time?
Dress warm in the morning, bring a sweater or jacket for the evening events. Balloon Fiesta is designed for spectators to actually get on the field and get up and close to the action. I encourage many to get out there and immerse yourself in on the action. I also advise safety when out on the field. The photo opportunities are boundless at Balloon Fiesta. Take lots of video and photos. I encourage visitors to be sure to purchase a t-shirt or event pin to take back.
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