To provide more thrill to the visitors, the organisers of Kodai Thiruvizha on Sunday introduced the hot-air balloon at Island Grounds on Sunday.

It took more than two hours for pilots – Frank Wechter and Imo Chaoba Singh – to set up the multi-coloured balloon from Germany due to the windy weather, even as thousands of visitors gathered at the venue and stood in awe silence till 8 p.m. The hot air balloon will be a regular feature and will be operated after 5.30 p.m. daily depending upon the wind conditions.

Commissioned on April 30, the 45-day Kodai Thiruvizha has attracted till date over 2.5 lakh visitors, of which Sunday alone accounted for 37,000 visitors. It has several water amusements, food courts, shopping centres and water fall. The hot-air balloon is the latest addition.

Talking to The Hindu, Enthrall Communications official said “this was not announced earlier, as we wanted to give some surprise to our visitors. The hot-air balloon can accommodate pilot plus four persons. We will allow them to use it for 10 to 15 minutes and it will be lifted up to 100 feet. The charge per person is Rs.100.”

“The balloon is 75 feet tall (equivalent to 10 storeyed building). Last three days, Chennai had perfect condition for the launch. Ideally, we can fly the balloon if the wind speed is around 7 miles per hour. But today it is around 14 miles per hour. Today, we just set up the facility and we will enable visitors to have a feel of it from Monday,” Mr. Wechter said.

Mr. Singh said that they cannot fly the hot air balloon beyond Island Grounds as they were not able to get permission from concerned authorities. The balloon will be operated by us on rotational basis.

“Since the time was short, we were also not able to bring airship and one of our pilots. May be we will bring them next time and make this event a grand success,” Mr. Wechter said.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National