Flood Ravaged Otsiningo Park is Back in Shape Just in Time for Spiedie Fest
8/1/2012 (Updated 10:51:36 PM)BINGHAMTON -- Over 100,000 visitors are expected to visit Otsiningo Park this weekend for the 28th Annual Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally. While every year it takes hundreds of volunteers and months of planning, this year was exceptionally tough. But today, Broome County Executive Debbie Preson had an exciting announcement to make:
"Otsiningo Park is ready for the 28th Annual Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally."
Like every other Spiedie Fest, this weekend is a celebration. But this year, it's a celebration of hard work paying off. Just eleven months go Otsiningo Park was under ten feet of water and the Parks and Recreation Department has been working tirelessly since September to get the park ready for the biggest event in the county and what organizers say is one of the best in the country.
"We're probably one of the top five hot air balloon festivals in the country, we bring in the top pilots, the best special shapes," said Dave Pessagno, Coordinator of the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally
But seeing the park completely submerged in September, Pessagno knew it was a long road ahead.
"To see the bathrooms destroyed, to have the electric destroyed throughout the park when we first sat down with Debbie [Preston], she told me that this was one of her favorite events and that this was going to happen," he said
Despite the condition the park was in after the flood, there was never any doubt that this was where the Spiedie Fest needed to be.
"This is where it started," Pessagno said. "It's great flying, it's a good location to get to."
"We knew we had a big job ahead of us but we also knew that this is where it needed to be," said Preston. "So one way or another we're going to get it ready and we'll be ready to go by August."
In addition to general repairs, a brand new Eco-friendly bathroom, twice the size of the old one, was built to accommodate the large crowd, and will remain open year round. But as anyone who suffered through the flood knows, recovery is expensive. But Pessagno assures that the cost of repairing the park will not be taken out on this weekend's visitors.
"What the goal was this year, of the county and us, was not to raise prices on anything due to the flood and be able to maintain the quality of entertainment we bring in without raising prices," he said.
While some are excited for bands such as .38 Special and Lonestar, others will be taking to the air. For some, that's something different.
"Someone said I'm going up in a balloon," Preston said. "I am afraid of heights, but whatever, i will give that a shot and see what i can do."
The Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally runs August 3-5. Friday's events kick off at 3:00 with the first balloon launch scheduled for 6:30.
In Binghamton, Jeremy Donovan, Fox 40 News.
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