Wedding Crashing, California Style

by Chris Dixon

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On a still, clear late Sunday afternoon, a hot air balloon drifted low over the hills of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. Aboard were Eric Baretto, his girlfriend Jennilyn Buenaventura Garcia and a pilot for a local hot air balloon company. It seems Baretto had thought this the perfect stage to ask his lovely girlfriend for her hand in marriage. Yet all was not well.

The pilot realized that the light offshore breezes aloft would not push the balloon back towards shore, so he attempted to bring the craft close to the ocean where perhaps a mild onshore breeze would prevail over cooler waters. But this would not be easy, as the slightest change in temperatures would raise or lower the balloon by a hundred feet in no time. As the pack of surfers of “Crowdiff Reef” watched on in disbelief, the balloon’s basket, and its inhabitants, ended up dropping into towards waters regularly stirred by a strong south swell. The surfers sprung to the rescue.

Needless to say, the incident was captured on plenty of cameras, with some of the liveliest commentary and action posted up on the Surfermag.com bulletin board – a few of whose members watched the whole thing unfold live.

In the below video, we see and hear the play by play of a California couple. At about :27 seconds in, she trolls her man, “Have you ever been in a hot air balloon?” To which he definitively replies, “no.” Then at just after 3:00, things get heavy when a solid set of waves rolls in just as the balloon is dropping while its propane burner is blazing. It’s then that you realize this whole thing could have gone horribly wrong, with the balloon catching fire and pouring melting nylon on the basket’s inhabitants and the rescuing surfers.

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Yet in the end, disaster was averted, and Ms. Garcia still happily answered “Yes.”

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