Sun ‘n Fun and the Downtown Lakeland Partnership (DLP) will be looking skyward during DLP’s First Friday activities April 2.
Sun ‘n Fun will bring aerial fly-bys, tethered hot air balloons, an after-dusk aerial light show, plus the US Air Force rock band “Reserve Generation,” to downtown Lakeland for the first Sun ‘n Fun Skyward Festival, for the traditional First Friday community gathering organized by local merchants. The evening activities arranged by Sun ‘n Fun represent a prelude to the events and activities taking place during the 36th annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo, which will take place April 13-18 at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL).
Skyward Festival activities at First Friday begin at 6 p.m. with a “formation fly-by” of aircraft over Munn Park and Lake Mirror by the volunteer “Ye Mystic Krewe” aerial club of Tampa, followed by Sun ‘n Fun’s World War II-era Stearman biplane. Concurrent with the fly-bys will be the preparation and inflating (weather permitting) of three or four tethered hot air balloons on the northwest shore of Lake Mirror, just off the corner of Cedar and Massachusetts. The hot air balloons will offer a colorful addition to the western view of Lake Mirror throughout the evening. The scene will be accentuated at dusk, when a “glow” is created within each balloon when the gas used to inflate the balloon is lit.
The festival environment of the evening will be enhanced by the music of the U.S. Air Force’s “Reserve Generation,” who will perform on a stage located at the northern perimeter of Munn Park. After sunset, First Friday participants will again look skyward for the event’s finale – an aerial pyrotechnic night light show by the aerobatic team of Steve and Suzanne Oliver.
As with the traditional 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 is International Fly-In & Expo, offering advance ticket sales and free posters. 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. Representatives from the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA), which is located on the Sun ‘n Fun campus, will also be available to distribute information and answer questions.