June 20th, 2024

Noteworthy: Taking to the skies for wonder, awe and better mental health

By Bruce Penton on May 29, 2024.

Rise Up, the hot air balloon festival, is a terrific event and Medicine Hat is lucky to be the host. Hot air balloons from all over North American descended on Medicine Hat and then filled the sky for four days while citizens were able to get up close and see for themselves just how massive these things are.

Sadly, the weather was less than co-operative following Thursday morning’s kick off to the weekend festival, though pilots did manage to take three flights throughout the festival. Other than Albuquerque, New Mexico, I know of no other city in the world that offers such a show. (Upon a visit to Google, though, I find there are dozens of cities around the world that play host to hot air balloon festivals, but only one other one in Canada – Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.)

The Medicine Hat event is a joint partnership between Willy and Cindy Taillon and Our Collective Journey. The mission statement for Our Collective Journey says: “We enable optimal mental well-being for functioning, at-risk Albertans using customized, evidence-based resiliency and personalized recovery coaching developed and delivered by those with lived experience, working in collaboration with donors, institutions, community and agency partners, and volunteers.”

So with gasps of delight by Hatters seeing hot air balloons all over the Hat, and efforts to improve mental health in our city, the festival is a major winner. Not to mention the economic impact it provides the city. Hundreds of non-Hatters, maybe thousands, pay a visit to our fair city to see these majestic balloons up close and perhaps even go for a ride. The public rides, at $350 a pop, reportedly sold out.

– The golf world was stunned last weekend with the news that 30-year-old tour pro Grayson Murray took his own life. Murray, a two-time PGA Tour winner and champion of the Sony Open in Hawaii just four months ago, had battled mental health, depression and anxiety issues for a large part of his adult life.

The fact that a 30-year-old man committed suicide brings to mind the devastation that hit Medicine Hat in 2020 when a rash of suicides of young men rocked the community. In most cases, people close to the tormented don’t realize that anything is wrong. For many reasons, the mental anguish is kept inside, perhaps due to a feeling of humiliation or perceived weakness.

Families and friends of suicide victims can deal with the grief forever, and in some cases blame themselves for not seeing the signs before it was too late. It brings to mind what the comedian Robin Williams once said: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, resources are available. In the case of an emergency dial 911. The Alberta Mental Health Help Line can be reached at 1-877-3030-2642. The Kids Help Phone can be reached at 1-800-668-6868.

– If you ever have the urge to see the inside of the Medicine Hat Police Service building without being arrested for theft, disorderly conduct or driving under the influence, your chance comes this Saturday. The annual MHPS open house will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., with building tours at 11 a.m., 1 and 2 p.m. A variety of displays and demonstrations will also be held, and the presentation of the Chief Gord Earl leadership legacy scholarships happens at 12:30 p.m. There will also be a charity barbecue, so not only can you see the inside of the city’s police operation, you can munch on a burger, too.

– Short snappers: The drone videos from high in the sky don’t lie: Madison Square Garden in New York is not square at all. It’s round. … Whoever coined the phrase ‘dad joke’ is just jealous that males like me can come up with the best groaners and puns and keep family gatherings rollicking with laughter. … Coun. Allison Knodel did a fine job as MC for the Medicine Hat Wall of Fame induction ceremony last Thursday at the Big Marble Go Centre. Inductees were the late Joe Fisher, an important hockey figure in Medicine Hat and who is the only Hat-born player whose name is on the Stanley Cup (Red Wings, 1943); and karate sensei Zorislav Krco, who has taught in the city for 23 years. There are now 34 sports figures in the Wall of Fame, and Krco is the first from his sport. … Hard to believe that curling star Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton, Brier winner in 2021 and seven-time medallist at the Brier, won’t be competing in men’s play next year. His team-mates dumped him a month ago, replacing him with Brad Jacobs, and now he’s joining Rachel Homan’s women’s world championship team as coach and will play mixed doubles with Homan.

Bruce Penton is a retired News editor who may be reached at brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca

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