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NJ.com The Messenger-Gazette: "Patriotic Essay Contest accepting contributions; hot air balloon to visit winner's school"

03/23/2010 3:54 PM -
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Patriotic Essay Contest accepting contributions; hot air balloon to visit winner's school

This is one assignemtn both children and their teachers can look forward to doing.

PNC and the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning are once again inviting New Jersey students in grades 2 through 12 to take part in the 7th annual PNC American Patriot Essay Contest by writing a short essay on the topic "What the American Flag Means to Me."

The Festival, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, will be held July 23-24-25, 2010 at Solberg Airport in Readington, N.J., and features the PNC American Flag balloon, the largest free-flying flag in the world.

This year's Grand Prize winner will receive a visit to his or her school in June by a gigantic, 75-foot-tall hot air balloon and a special VIP package at this year's festival: a hot air balloon ride for two, four Blue Sky Club VIP tickets, and the opportunity to meet one of this year's concert headliners. Past teen sensations to perform at the Festival include the Jonas Brothers, Disney's Demi Lovato and ABC Family star Meaghan Martin.

Second and third palce prizes consisting of Festival admission and merchandise will also be awarded to students.

To further reward students and educators for entering this year's contest, more prizes will be award than ever before.

The winning student's immediate classmates will each receive one complimentary general admission ticket to the festival and the winning student's teacher and school principal will each receive two Blue Sky Club VIP tickets.

Every teacher in the state who submits a group of 15 essays or more on behalf of their students will receive two free general admission tickets to the festival regardless of whether one of their students submits the winning essay.

"If you want your heart warmed and your pride in the USA lifted up, all you need to do is read the essays that are submitted each year by New Jersey students on the theme of 'What the American Flag Means to Me.' They are truly moving as well as a great tribute to the quality of learning that schools across New Jersey are achieving," said Joseph Whall, PNC senior vice president and director of client and community relations.

"We're happy to reward students and their teachers for taking the time to write about their feelings for this symbol of our country," said Howard Freeman, executive producer of the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning. "The PNC Essay Contest has proven to be a great way to engage our children to create moving and throughtful essays as the American flag means something special to each of us."

The essays should be 100 words or less. They will be judged by a panel of representatives from PNC and the balloon festival. Winning essays will be selected based on creativity, poignancy and clarity with consideration given to the grade level of the contestant. Contestants are not required to be U.S. citizens.

Entries should be submitted by May 1 to Essay Judges, Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of ballooning, 363 Route 46 West Suite 200, Fairfield, NJ 07004. Students can also enter the contest through the festival web site at www.balloonfestival.com. Entries should include the student's name, home or school address, home telephone number, grade, age, school name and the name of their teacher.

Jasmine Kaduthodil, a seventh grade student from Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School in Hamilton, was last year's grand prize winner. Previous winners were Hallee Feeney, a fourth-grade student from Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Milltown (2008), Shaina Cohen, a third-grade student from Fair Lawn and Yavneh Academy in Paramus (2007); Elizabeth Balkin, a fourth-grade stduent from Tewksbury Elementary School (2006); Allyson Keegan, a fifth-grade student from South Amboy Elementary School (2005); and Olesya Solouk, a fifth-grade student from Lebanon Borough School (2004).

The 28th Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America and the premier family entertainment event in the Northeast, attracting upwards of 175,000 people.


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