Brain balloon rescheduled for Friday

Thursday, September 20, 2007
The "World's Largest Brain" hot-air balloon will be inflated at 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday at Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau. The event was rescheduled from Sept. 8 at the SEMO District Fair. (Submitted photo)

A message about brains will be sent via balloon Friday with inflation time as early as 6:30 a.m.

The appearance of the hot-air brain balloon was postponed from Sept. 8. The balloon was supposed to be inflated at the SEMO District Fair but rescheduled because of scattered showers preventing proper inflation and possibly difficult conditions when it came time to dry out or roll up the balloon, which measures 100 feet wide by 90 feet long by 80 feet high.

The $250,000 balloon weighs four or five times as much as a normal hot-air balloon.

Educational information about the brain could quickly be conveyed in an e-mail, poster or some other catchy means, but Cape Girardeau neurosurgeon Dr. Scott R. Gibbs thought a huge balloon would capture attention long enough to promote learning about the brain, its functions and the importance of taking care of it.

Gibbs, who was awarded the Samuel P.W. Black Prize for excellence in neurosurgery, devotes a lot of time to helping area teens grasp a higher understanding and appreciation of the human brain.

The yellow, blue, orange, green and gray sections of the hot-air balloon delineate brain lobes, the cerebellum and brain stem. The brain balloon's appearance is sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Hospital's Regional Brain and Spine Center.

With balloon inflations at 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., passers-by can get a look at it and attend the 5 p.m. ceremony where Gibbs will give a speech and announce Southeast Missouri Hospital's brain poster and slogan contest winners. Prizes will be awarded in three age groups: 6- to 8-year-olds, 9- to 11-year-olds and 12- to 14-year-olds, with poster and overall slogan categories.

First-place winners will receive a tethered ride in the balloon, weather permitting.

It is not the first time the brain has appeared on the Cape Girardeau skyline, and it is not the first time its schedule has changed. In 2001, when the brain was scheduled to fly from Capaha Park to the SEMO District Fair, plans changed because of the ban on flights by the Federal Aviation Administration following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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