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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- As part of its upcoming 70th anniversary balloon and music festival, "A Salute to America," Big Y, Inc. here is sponsoring a contest in which public and private school students in second through 12th grades are invited to write an essay on the topic "What the American Flag Means to Me," according to a published report. The festival will take place June 9 to June 11 at Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield.
Essays shouldn't go over 100 words and may be submitted either by mail or through the festival Web site, www.thebige.com. Entries must be received by May 17, and winners will be informed May 26. Winning essays will be evaluated on creativity, poignancy and clarity, with consideration given to the grade level of each student.
The grand prize will be a special hot-air balloon appearance at the winning student's school by one of the 50 balloons participating in the festival. The grand prize winner will also receive a $500 savings bond courtesy of the exposition, four Blue Sky Club VIP tickets, and a hot-air balloon ride for two at the festival. The student's school will receive 500,000 Big Y Education Express points. First- and second- place winners will receive free admission to the festival and free festival souvenirs.
Employees of Big Y, the exposition, and members of their immediate families aren't eligible to enter the contest.
Among the hot-air balloons slated to appear at "A Salute to America" are "Big Y American Flag," "The Little Bees," "The American Bald Eagle," and the "Energizer Bunny." Balloon rides will take place 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., depending on wind and weather permitting. The festival will also feature amusement rides, a petting zoo, and a family fun pavilion.