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Forest Park

After 46 years the Great Forest Park Balloon Race still thrills this town

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

For only the second time in its 46 year history, the 2018 Great Forest Park Balloon Race was held on Art Hill, one of the prettiest spots in Forest Park. The location on Grand Basin offered a respite from the oppressive  heat to those who rented paddle boats or sat by water’s edge and dipped their feet into the Basin.

The Balloon Race was founded by CWEnder John Marlow and friends Ted Staley, Dan Schettler and John Schaumberg, who modestly dub themselves The Fab Four. There were only 6 balloons at lift-off in the inaugural year 1973, and twice that number of spectators. Now the GFPBR invites over 60 of the most experienced balloonists in the country to participate, and there are an estimated 150,000 people attending the weekend’s activities, the Balloon Glow on Friday night and the Race on Saturday afternoon.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Lift off took place Saturday about 4:40 p.m. A southwest breeze guided the Hare (the lead balloon), above, to the old Chrysler plant in Fenton.  In Sunday’s Post-Dispatch, reporter Leah Thorsen gives a first-hand account of what it was like to ride in the balloon sponsored by the newspaper.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Forest Park  PNC Bank John Marlow Great Forest Park Balloon Race Forest Park Art Hill

One of the great pleasures of the afternoon was to observe people of all descriptions as they enjoyed this fabulous family-friendly and free event on Art Hill. Thanks to John Marlow and friends for the countless hours of work organizing this magnificent gift to our town. And a very special thanks to PNC Bank, Presenting Sponsor of 2018’s Great Forest Park Balloon Race. Other sponsors can be found on the GFPBR website.

The winter landscape in Forest Park

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Forest Park Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Forest Park Central West End   Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Forest Park Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Forest Park Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Forest Park Central West End

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Forest Park Central West End

For years, the City of St. Louis has had a recycling program for Christmas trees, see instructions here. Until January 12, bare trees can be dropped off at the lower Muny lot, above, (other drop off locations are mentioned on instructions) where they will be turned into mulch, which will be available to city residents. Please do not place trees in alley dumpsters or recycling containers. If the trees are left in the alley, they will be picked up during the monthly bulk pick up.

Remembering Peasy Love, a champion of Forest Park

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Robert Duffy Peasy Love New City School Forest Park Forever

Sixty trees alongside Forest Park’s Murphy Lake, at the intersection of Lake Ave. & Lindell Blvd., have been tagged with red ribbons in honor of the late Sara Otto “Peasy” Love, a founder of Forest Park Forever,” the private, non-profit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to restore, maintain, and preserve Forest Park.”

Sue Clancy, an early Forest Park Forever Executive Director and longtime board member, explained the significance of the red ribbons:  “One of Peasy’s favorite Forest Park traditions was the “Trim a Tree” project. She would engage local arborists to donate their time and energy to assist the City and Forest Park Forever with tree trimming…cutting out dead wood and shaping branches. For a small donation, FPF would put a big ribbon with the name of the donor—either your own or someone you wanted to remember—on each trimmed tree on Christmas Eve. Peasy loved Forest Park, especially the trees! She was wonderful and will be sorely missed.”

Read more on Forest Park Forever’s website.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Robert Duffy Peasy Love New City School Forest Park Forever

Here is more about Peasy’s connection to Forest Park in an excerpt from CWEnder Robert Duffy’s beautiful obituary in December 24th’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Forest Park is a 1371-acre natural and architectural wonderland, home to egrets, turkeys, and foxes as well as major cultural institutions and remnants of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and World’s Fair. Its assets include indigenous and exotic flora and fauna and extensive resources for sports and outdoor recreation. Created in the late 19th century, by the 1960s it was falling apart.

Mrs. Love and others recognized this as a huge problem, and banded together to devote time and treasure to the renovation and preservation of the park…”—leading to the establishment of Forest Park Forever.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Robert Duffy Peasy Love New City School Forest Park Forever

Another enormous contribution to the CWE was the creation of New City School, which Peasy Love, along with other CWEnders founded almost 50 years ago, after the Religious Order of the Sacred Heart closed Barat Hall/City House which was located at Taylor and Maryland Aves.

Years ago, I would occasionally see the Loves riding their horses on bridle trails in Forest Park (long before the creation of Forest Park Forever). At the time this was a common occurrence, since several CWE families kept horses in stables on their properties. (The bridle trails were replaced by the original bike path.)  At the memorial service I learned that the Loves’ stable at one time housed some camels who were being kept—uncomfortably Peasy felt—in trailers downtown, while the circus was in town. She left a note on the trailer door inviting the camels to take up residence in the CWE, and they arrived the next day.

Peasy not only left her mark on the neighborhood and the City of St. Louis, she was extremely generous to many, many people in her quiet, elegant way. She will be dearly missed.