Senior citizens floating high as local man offers balloon rides

ST. GEORGE — Senior citizens took to the skies Wednesday as the Spring Gardens Senior Living Center welcomed a local balloonist offering residents a chance to float in the sky in his hot air balloon.

Gabrielle Von Kahrs, 99, smiles after a balloon ride. St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News
Gabrielle Von Kahrs, 99, smiles after a balloon ride. St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

At 99 years old, Spring Gardens resident and renowned watercolor artist Gabrielle Von Kahrs has done many things in her life, including learning how to play the organ in her 80s and painting the eyes on the first Barbie doll in 1959. On Wednesday, Von Kahrs took her first balloon ride. She said she loved every minute of it, except for one thing:

“I lived on a boat for 25 years,” Von Kahrs said after returning to earth. “And this was rockier than my boat.”

Spring Gardens activities director Sandra Foote said that Rocky Neal, owner of the financial group Neal Group, brings his balloon out and gives the residents rides for free.

“This is the second time he’s done it,” Foote said. “It’s an amazing day, and everyone is having a good time.”

Rocky Neal and crew heat the air in their hot air balloon prior to taking seniors on a ride Wednesday, St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News
Rocky Neal and crew heat the air in their hot air balloon prior to taking seniors on a ride Wednesday, St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

The owner of Spring Gardens, Bob Irvine, had a smile on his face as he watched the residents enjoy the rides.

“Most people think that they go into assisted living to die,” Irvine said. “We don’t believe that here. We believe people come here to live. We’re always looking for things for them to do, things they might not have done in their lifetime, and this is one of those things.”

Irvine said the residents often tell him various things they would like to do.

“We have one lady who would like to go skydiving,” Irvine said. “Now that may be one thing that we may not try. We’ve done a lot of things that we didn’t think we would do three or four years ago when we built this place.”

Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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