Last Friday on his new blog, veteran political reporter Bob Gibson of the Charlottesville Daily Progress wrote about the Ron Paul "mini-blimp" that has found its portable home in Central Virginia:
The size of a small whale, Ron Paul’s Charlottesville blimp has been lighting the night skies along Rio Road and, as of today, Fontaine Avenue.
The white blimp—asking who the heck Ron Paul is—was trucked from its home base on East Rio Road late today to its new home in the sky near the Interstate 64 intersection with U.S. 29 just south of Fontaine Avenue.
The lighted blimp adds a new dimension to the surging Paul effort and appears not to be floated on hot air, but that other Washington staple—a shot of noble gas.
The GOP’s Paul, a Texas congressman and libertarian, is the first of 12 presidential candidates on the Feb. 12 Virginia primary ballots, six in each party, to get his blimp floating over the outskirts of the liberal enclave of Charlottesville.
That blimp is no longer on the outskirts. In a brilliant marketing move, the blimp's mover and shaker, Jack Faw, placed it right in the heart of Charlottesville for New Year's Eve. The blimp is parked near the corner of Main Street and McIntyre-Ridge Road. Lit up, it can be seen for quite a distance from all directions.
Faw, a retired goat farmer, and his blimp have already been the subject of feature stories on two local TV stations. In fact, the Christmas Eve story by Matt Holmes on WCAV-TV's web site is the number-one most accessed story among the station's recent archives. Holmes wrote:
Faw says Central Virginia's going to see a lot of that blimp.Annie Scholz of Channel 29 filed a story on the Ron Paul blimp on Christmas Day. She reported:
"Staunton has already asked. Harrisonburg has asked. Lynchburg's interested. Richmond is interested. I-64 in Fluvanna County, some of our members down that way would like to have it."
The 72-year-old Paul has raised $19 million so far this quarter and he won the Virginia Straw Poll earlier this month. Still, the Texas congressman lags significantly in the national polls.
Faw special ordered the big balloon online and says it was worth it to take the campaign to new heights.
"I found a dealer and a manufacturer in California and with a lot of phone calls over a couple days is all. By the second day I had ordered it and paid for it," shared Faw.
Faw plans to take the balloon to different locations across Albemarle County. He says he'll put anywhere anyone will let him.
Faw won't tell us how much he spent on the balloon or the rest of his Ron Paul paraphernalia. He'll only say it's the price he's willing to pay for freedom.
With thousands of people streaming into Charlottesville tonight for First Night Virginia, to see the fireworks, or to dance the night away at Club 216, the Ron Paul blimp will be seen by many people heretofore unfamiliar with the presidential candidate from Texas. No doubt the question, "Who is Ron Paul?," will be on many lips this evening.
Talk about being lit up for New Year's Eve!
Update: I just received an email with a link to this story from Central Florida, where the official Ron Paul blimp -- not official in the sense of being connected to the campaign, but official in the sense that it's the original, full-size blimp that has spawned (through inspiration) the mini-blimps around the country, including Jack Faw's -- is slated to fly over the Capital One Bowl (a football game):
Presumably, a blimp flying over the stadium will also end up on TV screens across the country, and seen by far more than the 70,000 people in the stands. And CFNews13 was first with the story.
The Capitol One Bowl Tuesday was set to pit Florida against Michigan.
Besides their teams in the big game, the two states have one other thing in common: both are holding presidential primaries in January.
At least one candidate has taken advantage of having all those voters in one place.
The Ron Paul campaign planned to put a blimp up over the Citrus Bowl Tuesday before the game, so more than 70,000 fans attending the Capital One Bowl would be able to see it pass by the arena.