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Balloon Race’s Duck Drop honors memory of longtime participant

East Texas News at 6.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 3:01 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Hot air Balloon pilots normally throw a bean bag at targets on the ground for points. But this year, in memory of a man who worked with the Great Texas Balloon Race, pilots will be throwing a rubber duck at one target. And the target will not be an X, it will be a six-foot swimming pool.

Jim Tachias not only did volunteer crew work for pilots, he also served on the Great Texas Balloon Race Board of Directors. His wife, Raina Tachias, said he was always trying to do something new.

“Jim brought in the Wells Fargo Balloon, which is a massive balloon. It requires a lot of volunteers just to help handle it. But it’s a beautiful balloon, so he was proud to bring that into Longview, Texas” Raina said.

Raina says he loved all aspects of the race and was even involved with officiating.

“In 2019 he was on the measurement team, and he just loved it. He was really having a lot of fun with it,” Raina said.

Raina says only weeks after that race, Jim died of cancer.

Jim had worked with Chief Measuring Team Official Mark Dulweber. He checked bins full of measuring equipment including a kiddie pool. And coming soon are the:

“Little rubber ducks. The pilots will each have one. And they’ll throw. And there’s a five-thousand-dollar prize total that will be given away. First one wins a little bit more and any more that get in the pool will share the prizes from there,” Dulweber said.

The ducks were being numbered to be assigned to pilots.

“Each pilot that has it, his number will be on there,” Dulweber said.

He said they’ll do it Friday and Saturday mornings:

“It will not be a Sunday event,” Dulweber said.

He said the pool target doesn’t count for points and will be positioned downwind of an X shaped target.

“That will be kind of the last thing they would do, most likely, on this target,” Dulweber said.

But, who’s idea was the duck drop? It was Jim’s back in 2019.

“He was going to sponsor the duck drop,” Raina Tachias said.

“Due to bad winds and things that day we didn’t get to do that task,” Dulweber said.

So, the ducks waited a few years until someone remembered them.

“It was going to be to honor Jim’s memory. I was just thrilled. It just totally made my day,” Tachias said.

And who purchased all those rubber duckies? Well, it was Jim himself.

“Many, many years of blood sweat and tears went into his volunteering at the balloon race,” Tachias said.

And apparently one last donation from him in the form of rubber ducks.

The Great Texas Balloon Race is Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Longview Convention Center. If you’d like more information, click here.

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