March 2 First Friday Event Looks “Skyward”

SUN ‘n FUN and DOWNTOWN LAKELAND PATNERSHIP (DLP) will again invite all in downtown Lakeland to look “Skyward” during this year’s March First Friday featuring the 3rd Annual SUN ‘n FUN Skyward Festival on March 2.

SUN ‘n FUN will bring an opening fly-over formation of vintage Stearman, a hot air balloon glow at dusk, an after-dark aerial pyrotechnic light show, portable sport airplanes and flight simulators plus the U.S. Air Force Reserve Generation rock band  to downtown Lakeland for the 3rd annual DLP/SUN ‘n FUN Skyward Festival. The event will provide the downtown Lakeland community with the Inspiration of Aviation as a powerful retail and arts community merchandising theme.

The evening activities arranged by SUN ‘n FUN will represent a sampling of the 2012 annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo scheduled for March 27-April 1 on and over SUN’n FUN’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport campus. This year SUN ‘n FUN 2012 will feature FIFI (the only flyable B-29), the P-51C Red Tail, classic C&W recording star Aaron Tippin, a new Kid Zone, the U.S. Marine Silent Drill team and the acclaimed U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Skyward Festival activities at First Friday begin at 6 p.m. with the Stearman formation fly-over Munn Park and Lake Mirror. Concurrent with the flight of the Stearman will be the preparation and inflating (weather permitting) of tethered hot air balloons on the northwest shore of Lake Mirror, just off the corner of Cedar and Massachusetts.

Assuming calm air, the hot air balloons will offer a colorful addition to the western view of Lake Mirror. The scene will be accentuated at dusk, when a “glow” is created within each balloon.

The evening’s festivities will be intensified by the rock music of the U.S. Air Force rock band, Reserve Generation, performing on the Munn Park mobile stage.  After sunset, First Friday participants will again look “Skyward” for the evening’s aerial light show, by Roger Buis’ pyrotechnic helicopter, Otto. Following the light show, Reserve Generation will retake the Munn Park stage to continue the rhythm of the festival for the   remainder of the evening.

In keeping with the tradition of First Fridays, the mid-town length of Kentucky Avenue will be converted into a pedestrian mall.  The “skyward festival” theme will be echoed throughout the area.  SUN ‘n FUN will add exhibits for its International Fly-In & Expo, offering t-shirt sales and free posters, plus an exhibit by the Florida Air Museum at SUN ‘n FUN will include a kid’s activity table and information pertaining to the Museum’s “Destination Aviation” summer camp program and rides in its mobile flight simulator.  Representatives from the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA), which is located on the SUN ‘n FUN campus, will also be available to answer questions about the Academy and its state-of-the-art high school building on the SUN ‘n FUN campus.

The March 2 First Friday SUN ‘n FUN Skyward Festival is being organized through the dedicated energies of DLP Event Chairman Chase Sellmeyer, Liaison and Sponsorship Chairman Ford Heacock, president of Heacock Insurance and Meredith Spresser,  Interim Event & Media Manager of the Downtown Lakeland Partnership. Special thanks and recognition are extended to the sponsors of the Skyward Festival including Heacock Insurance; Clark, Campbell & Lancaster, PA; Lakeland Linder Regional Airport; the City of Lakeland; and Brooke Pottery.

For additional information on the March 2 First Friday activities, especially the status of the evening schedule should weather challenge the event, check the Downtown Lakeland website: www.downtownlakelandfl.com.