Hot Air Balloon Fundraiser Fails to Take Off

Plans to launch a hot air balloon to draw attention to the plight of children receiving no education were thwarted Friday, when the truck carrying the balloon was intercepted by security as it drove across Wat Botum park.

The truck, driven by Andrew Parker—a hot air balloon pilot who conceived the Flying High For Kids World Balloon Project with Unicef—drove up the curb and toward the grassed park, dislodging the tiled pavement along the way.

Andrew Parker, pilot of a hot air balloon raising funds for Unicef, walks over tiles dislodged by a truck he drove across Phnom Penh's Wat Botum Park. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Andrew Parker, pilot of a hot air balloon raising funds for Unicef, walks over tiles dislodged by a truck he drove across Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum Park. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

After being intercepted by security guards, Mr. Parker was briefly questioned by police before agreeing to pay for repairs to the pavement, said Phnom Penh deputy municipal governor Khuong Sreng.

“We just ordered him to pay for the damage and advised him to show more morality in our society and then allowed him to go,” Mr. Sreng said.

Mr. Parker showed the balloon at schools in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap last week and had intended to fly from Wat Botum Park to Laos on Friday.

He and his two-person team plan to traverse the world raising money for Unicef over the next four years, with Chile the final stop in 2017.

Unicef communication specialist Meas Bunly said Mr. Parker regretted driving into the park and that the balloon, which has flown through more than 100 countries, would be launched at a later date.

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