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Helium balloon ride gets green light for Myrtle Beach skies this spring

A hot air ballon rises through the air for the Freedom Balloon Fest in Fuquay-Varina, Friday, May 27, 2016. The town approved an agreement Oct. 3, 2016, that will bring the multi-day event back to Fuquay-Varina through 2021.
A hot air ballon rises through the air for the Freedom Balloon Fest in Fuquay-Varina, Friday, May 27, 2016. The town approved an agreement Oct. 3, 2016, that will bring the multi-day event back to Fuquay-Varina through 2021. newsobserver.com

Myrtle Beach will have a new attraction to offer visitors this summer as city council approved permits to operate a tethered helium balloon ride.

Skyrider Park will operate at the corner of 8th Avenue North and Chester Street beginning April 1 in a lot that has sat vacant for more than five years, according to Lauren Clever, director of the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, a nonprofit arm of the city.

The applicant, Eric McGee, wants to test the attraction before making a permanent investment, so city council agreed to allow him to operate for 180 days — until Sept. 28 — in the form of two consecutive 90-day special event permits.

McGee told council members that the balloon, which will be tethered to the ground, won’t rise above 400 feet and will be required to shut down whenever wind speeds surpass 28 mph.

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The application submitted to the city states that the ride can hold up to 20 passengers at a time during periods of low wind.

City council unanimously approved the permits, though councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat recused herself from the conversation because she said her husband represents McGee.

If you visit Myrtle Beach, check out these 12 attractions off before heading home.

Investigative project reporter David Weissman joined The Sun News after three years working at The York Dispatch in Pennsylvania, where he earned awards for his investigative reports on topics including health, business, politics and education.
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