DANVILLE — It’s that time of year once again. An opportunity to give thanks, enjoy family get-togethers and — if you live in Danville — watch rubber chickens fall from the sky.
For the 15th year, Danville is the site of the annual Les Nessman Memorial Turkey Drop, organized by the Danville Balloon Group. The event is a tribute to an episode of the 30-year-old sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” in which radio station news director Les Nessman gives a radio play-by-play of live turkeys being dropped onto a parking lot during a radio promotion.
The event is scheduled to take place at 6:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Hot air balloon pilots will gather at the Carlton Farm in northwest Danville.
Dean Carlton of the Ca-Zoo Hot Air Team is one of the coordinators as well as a participant. He said the event is as much good practice for the hot air balloon pilots as it is a contest.
“The contest — if there is one — is about accuracy and trying to fly and drop a turkey in the center of an X or marker,” he said. “If you can fly to a low spot and throw a turkey on it, you can land on a one-acre piece of grass if you need to.”
The rubber chickens — which are easier to find than rubber turkeys — date back to a Thanksgiving Day flight over Danville during which Carlton dropped a rubber chicken from his balloon onto some friends watching him from the ground.
Since then the holiday antics have become a good-hearted competition with the hot air balloons launching at sunrise and flying in on a large “X” and trying to hit the target. The rubber chickens are dressed in costumes, with squirrels, super heroes and even anvils among the costumes concocted for the rubber birds in past years.