Have a Cold One in Celina

It will be bottoms up at this year's balloon festival in Celina.

The City Council voted 4-2 in favor of allowing a vendor to sell beer and wine at the community sponsored-event for the first time in Celina history.

"We are hoping for no controversy this time at all," said Celina Chamber of Commerce President Mitzi Eves.

Last October, Celina's council voted twice in favor of making the annual Family Fun Day in the town square a BYOB affair. But the council reversed its decision after community protests.

"It's a sensitive topic, there's no doubt about that," said Jason Gray, Celina city manager.

The Family Fun Day attracts mostly Celina residents. The school district, whose students were heavily involved as entertainers, threatened to pull its students out of the event if the council didn't change it's mind.

But the balloon festival scheduled for June 25-27 is a regional event that could draw as many as 15,000 people. Several council members noted that neighboring cities have successful, family-oriented events that also had alcohol present.

Anyone wishing to purchase alcohol at the festival will have to present Identification and wear a special bracelet. Police officers will also be present to ensure no one indulges too much. 

Some residents who were opposed to alcohol at the Fun Day event said they would prefer it if the balloon festival was also dry.

"I choose not to do it, and I wouldn't want that to be around my children or to be available to them," Brenda McCoart said.

But other people said they don't see the harm. Carol Hardaway said the community isn't introducing children to something they've never seen before.

"It's sold at the grocery stores, it's sold at the gas station. Why not?" she said. "It also will bring a lot of people from other places."

So far there have been no organized protests. Only one person and two council members voiced objections about the selling beer and wine at the festival.

City leaders said it's possible that some people may protest the alcohol sales, but the council will not likely reverse its decision, which would also mean backing out of an agreement with a vendor.

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