Library first to buy replica balloon for Longview sesquicentennial celebration

The Longview Public Library is the first customer to buy a replica hot air balloon in preparation for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration next year.

The Gregg County Historical Foundation is selling the metal balloons as a fundraiser hailed as Liftoff 2020. So far, at least five businesses, agencies and people have committed to purchasing either a 5-foot, 6-inch version for $3,000 or a 3-foot version for $2,000, museum Executive Director Lindsay Loy said.

Library Director Jennifer Eldridge was the first to sign up for a balloon, which will be placed on the plaza in front of the library once the balloon is painted.

“Peggy (Coghlan) would want us to have a balloon,” Eldridge said, referring to the late Longview educator and philanthropist. She and her husband, the late Howard Coghlan, were early benefactors of Longview’s centennial celebration in 1970, as well as the library.

The balloons come in a white base coat and are produced by Modisette Welding & Supply of Kilgore for the sesquicentennial, dubbed Longview 150, but museum board members say the balloons won’t rust and should last at least 25 years.

They’ve set a July 1 deadline for interested customers to apply for a balloon sculpture, as each balloon placed in Longview must receive a permit from the city, Loy said.

“They also have to double check that it’s not near gas or pipelines,” Eldridge said.

Loy expects sales to increase once people start to see the finished products around town. The museum’s balloon will have 3-D imaging of clouds attached to it to give the appearance that it’s flying, while library staff plan to paint their balloon.

“You pick your size, you pick your color and you pick your location,” Loy said. “You write us one check, and we do everything for you. We can have it painted, have it installed, have it clear-coated, and each one is going to have a little plaque on the bottom.”

For information, contact Loy at (903) 753-5840 or email .