March 28, 2005WEST CALDWELL, NJ, March 26, 2005 – A gigantic hot air balloon will appear at a New Jersey school once again this spring as part of PNC Bank’s community outreach efforts through the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning. PNC Bank and the balloon festival are inviting children and schools encompassing grades 2-12 throughout the state to take part in “The PNC Bank American Patriot Contest.” Because of last year’s success with this contest, both PNC Bank and the Quick Chek Balloon Festival want to give kids an opportunity to write for a second time about the topic: “What the American Flag means to me.” Entries will be submitted to the address listed below and the winning pupil will be honored with “The PNC Bank American Patriot Contest” grand prize, a special appearance by an enormous hot air balloon at the student’s school, subject to necessary approvals. The winning entry will also receive four tickets and a hot air balloon ride at the Festival. Students can enter the contest directly through the Festival website – www.balloonfestival.com – look for the “Student Essay Contest” link or by following these rules: · Write a two to three-paragraph essay (100 words or less) on “What the American Flag means to me.” · Submit the essay by Friday, May 6 to: Promo 1, ATTN: Essay Judges, 1140 Bloomfield Avenue, Suite 209, West Caldwell, New Jersey 07006. · Entries may also be faxed: 973-882-7961 or e-mailed: [email protected] · Open to all children in the state of New Jersey in grades 2 through 12. · Contestants are not required to be U.S. citizens. Questions should be emailed to [email protected] Olesya Solouk, a fifth grader from Lebanon Borough School of Lebanon, NJ, and last year’s winner, caught the attention of the judges with the following excerpt: “The American Flag means: Freedom, Rights and Liberty. I think we need to respect the flag. Also, when we look at the American Flag, we should think that it would protect us from evil. We are a loving country and a strong one, too.” A panel of judges comprised of PNC Bank and Festival staff will choose the winner. Second and third-place prizes will also be awarded. Winning essays will be selected based on creativity, poignancy and clarity, with consideration given to the grade level of the contestant. “Last year we had so many students submit wonderfully written essays” said Joe Whall, Vice President of Corporate Communications, PNC Bank. “We felt compelled to replicate that experience this year and we believe the students will enjoy the second opportunity.” “The flag symbolism is so perfectly relevant in these turbulent times around the world,” said Howard Freeman, Executive Producer of the Festival. “This contest is one of the Festival’s most important community programs.” Born at a truck stop on Route 78 in 1979 prior to moving to its current location in 1983, the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, In Association With PNC Bank, now draws over 175,000 people from 31 states to Solberg Airport in Hunterdon County to see the ascension of 125 gigantic hot air balloons, major concert performers and hundreds of other family-oriented attractions. It is the largest summertime balloon festival in North America. The dates for the 2005 event are July 29-31. Further information on The PNC Bank American Patriot Contest can be obtained by calling 1 800 HOT AIR 9 (1 800 468-2479) or by going to www.balloonfestival.com. PNC Bank is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing consumer and business banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management; asset management and global fund services.