After its demise, fans and locals took to social media to share memories of the balloon, which for $15 took visitors about 400 feet into the air for a view of the zoo grounds, Fairmount Park, and Center City. After the outpouring of stories, zoo officials made plans for another balloon to fly until October.
"We were extremely touched by how much the Philadelphia Zoo and the 6ABC ZooBalloon has meant to so many," zoo board chairman Jay Calvert said. He noted two particular stories - one of a couple who got married in the balloon in 2006, and another of a daughter taking her father, now deceased, up for the view.
The zoo struck an agreement with Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd. in England to have the balloon for this year only. The future of the attraction beyond October is still up in the air, according to Andrew Baker, the zoo's chief operating officer.
The new balloon, which will display the words "Soar Once More," will be inflated Friday and in operation soon after.
This will be the zoo's third helium balloon to take flight since June 2002. The first, which lasted until 2008, was the first tethered helium balloon in an American zoo. Since 2002, the balloons have taken about 228,000 people into the air.
Now, more people can say they've ridden the balloon, including a certain mayor.
Upon hearing that riding the balloon has been on Nutter's bucket list, the zoo presented him with two free tickets for the new balloon.