An appeal has been launched to get a giant hot air balloon in the shape of Darth Vader’s head to fly for the first time in Bristol.
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is trying to raise £10,000 to get the unique balloon to take part in this summer’s event – and says there are many reasons to ‘bring it home’.
For a start, the special Darth Vader shape balloon was constructed in Bedminster by Cameron Balloons, but has never flown in Bristol.
The balloon has toured the world, flying in Australia, China, Malaysia and the USA, but has never taken off from Ashton Court and floated menacingly over the Suspension Bridge or, depending on the wind, the Harbourside.
Secondly, the actor who actually fitted the iconic black helmet-mask-cloak-hood combo was Bristol’s own David Prowse, who famously played the most evil man in the universe in Star Wars, while also playing Britain’s most benevolent, child-saving superhero, the Green Cross Code Man, in a long-running series of children’s TV safety films which taught a generation how to cross the road.
So the Balloon Fiesta organisers have their heart set on Darth Vader being among the balloons which take to the skies over Bristol from Thursday August 8 to Sunday, August 11, but they say they need £10,000 to get the balloon and its team here.
“Not many people realise this but the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is a not-for-profit event, it receives no public funding and each year, led by a committee of volunteers, the organisers raise the £750,000 it takes to put on this event, which brings a lot of fun to the community and puts Bristol on the international map,” said a spokesperson for the fiesta.
“While each year through relentless energy, passion and hard work we just about manage to raise the required funds to put on this incredible event, we’re left with very little reserves to really add something special to the programme and protect the event for future years to come.
“This year, as we celebrate the Icons of Bristol we want that to change, so we’re asking you to help us raise the funds to bring this special balloon home. Please help us in our fundraising so we can, once again, deliver the event Bristol deserves,” they added.
The campaign has already raised more than £1,000 – and needs to raise another £9,000 by August 2, or the flying Darth Vader head won’t come to Bristol.
(Image: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta)
People pledging money can be rewarded through the ‘fundsurfer’ scheme with a variety of different prizes, from getting access to a special spot to having a picture in front of the Darth Vader balloon when it goes up (£10) to the chance to pull the cord to blast the burners on a tethered balloon as part of the Night Glow (£150), or a balloon flight for two at the fiesta itself (£400).