Essay Contest Winner Will Bring Hot Air Balloon To School

READINGTON – PNC and the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning are inviting New Jersey students in grades 2 through 12 to take part in the 8th 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 29-30-31, 2011 at Solberg Airport in Readington 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 by a gigantic, 75-foot-tall hot air balloon in June 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, which have included the Jonas Brothers and Disney stars Demi Lovato and Emily Osment in the past.

Second and third place prizes consisting of Festival admission and merchandise will be also awarded.

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.

“Values are passed down. They are a legacy to children from their parents and grandparents,” said Joseph Whall, Senior Vice President & Director of Client and Community Relations at PNC. “Patriotism is no different. It is certainly taught. Every year in the American Patriot Essay contest it is very moving to us at PNC to see young people expressing their love for America inspired by their teachers and families.”

“We’re very pleased to reward both students and their teachers for taking the time to write to us about their feelings for this great symbol of our country,” said Howard Freeman, Executive Producer of the Quick Chek New Jersey festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC. “The PNC Essay Contest has proven to be a great way to engage our children to create touching and thoughtful 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, 2011 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 or by emailing their essays to Entries should include the student’s name, home or school address, home or school telephone number, grade, age, school name and the name of their teacher.

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