Few students hot for balloon museum

Few students hot for balloon museum

by shley Pitkin

What do preschoolers, senior citizens and boy scouts all have incommon? No, it’s not that they go to bed early. It’s that they,along with a few Harley Davidson bikers, have all experienced thesame Indianola rite of passage – the National Balloon Museum.

People have been marveling at the museum’s many exhibits,displays and activities since it officially opened in 1972.However, names from the Simpson College community — especiallystudents’ — are missing from the museum’s guest book.

“Not enough [students] come in and they should because it’s partof our community,” museum curator Becky Wigeland said.

Wigeland, a ’69 graduate of Simpson, has only been part of themuseum’s staff for a year but she said the museum has changed a lotin that year. The museum was expanded in 2003 to make room for newexhibits.

“The museum has over 200 years of ballooning history in italready,” Wigeland said. “We’re looking into becoming even more ofa research source and we’re also trying to develop more interactiveexhibits.”

Junior Ryan Lieser has visited the museum a few times, buthasn’t been inside since its renovation.

“When I first came to Simpson I drove by the balloon museum andthought to myself, ‘I am going to that museum,’ and I did,” Liesersaid. “It was totally worth the walk.”

Sarah Holmes, a junior, has also been to the museum. Althoughshe felt overwhelmed by all the information the museum had tooffer, she did enjoy seeing all the pictures and the balloon-craftdisplay.

“When I went to the museum there was a huge quilt made out ofold balloon festival T-shirts,” Holmes said. “It even had a T-shirtfrom Altoona, the town one of my roommates grew up in. I want thatquilt for my bed.”

Wigeland hopes more students like Lieser and Holmes will comeand visit the museum, if only to say they’ve visited it once intheir lifetimes.

“It’s like going to the opera,” Wigeland said. “Even if youdon’t think you’ll like it you should go just to say you’vebeen.”