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Balloon Festival & Pnc Bank Help Local Children “grow Up Great”

June 24, 2008

EAST WINDSOR, NJ — The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning and PNC Bank brought a giant, 75-foot-tall hot air balloon to Etra Lake Park in East Windsor to promote PNC’s “Grow Up Great” school readiness program on Tuesday, June 24.

PNC’s “Grow Up Great” program is the most comprehensive corporate-based school readiness program in the country, a 10-year, $100 million investment dedicated to help produce stronger, smarter, and healthier children, families and communities, preparing young children for school and life.
100 school children between the ages of 2½ and 5 years old from the Better Beginnings Child Development Center had the unique opportunity to step inside a giant hot air balloon and experience the thrills and visual attractions this event offers as they went outdoors to study the world around them. Better Beginnings has provided affordable child care for working families in the Hightstown-East Windsor area since 1967. This is the first year that the Better Beginnings Child Development Center has been honored.
This walk-through event was held in Etra Lake Park in East Windsor and featured a giant hot air balloon which was inflated on its side and securely staked to the ground allowing Better Beginnings children to play inside. Festival producer Howard Freeman provided an age-appropriate lesson on the science of hot-air ballooning — giving kids a chance to “Grow Up Great!” — with Festival Director and pilot Sally Mazzocchi providing the balloon.   “PNC Grow Up Great is an unprecedented 10-year, $100 million investment, helping prepare young children, from birth to age five, for school and life,” said Joseph Whall, Director of Client & Community Relations for PNC Bank, whose Grow Up Great program has awarded program funding to head start centers, non-profit early childhood organizations, cultural institutions and institutions of higher learning to enhance pre-school readiness for disadvantaged children. “PNC is particularly pleased to provide our financial support to the innovative pre-school programs of the Bergen Family Center,” added Whall. “The center regularly provides hands-on learning experiences to their youngest children. And with the help of the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank, those children begin to see the wonders of the world through the lens of science.”   “It’s all about the children, to see the joy in their faces when they get to play in the balloon,” said Freeman, who provided the balloon, one of the 125 hot air balloons scheduled to be at the Festival, and the lesson for the children as part of the Festival’s community outreach program. “We believe in doing well by doing good. We are thrilled to provide these great kids with a fun and exciting learning experience that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.”   The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America and is the premier family entertainment event in the Northeast. Upwards of 175,000 people are expected to attend the 26th annual Festival, July 25-26-27, 2008 at Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ.   Founded in 1967, Better Beginnings Child Development Center of Hightstown, NJ provides a developmentally-appropriate, multi-cultural, bilingual curriculum with activities based on individual needs and learning styles for children ages 2½ to 11 years old. The center utilizes outside activities, discovery walks and excursions for social skills development, including enhancing self-image, independence, respect for self and others, friendship, choice-making, and conflict resolution.   This was the second of two PNC Grow Up Great events conducted in New Jersey this year. The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning and PNC held a similar walk-through balloon event at the Bergen Family Center in Englewood in Bergen County on May 29, 2008.     ###   MEDIA CONTACT:     Russ Mensch Mensch & Company, Inc. 201-797-2448 [email protected]