ROCHESTER — A calm Saturday morning decorating for Christmas took an unexpected turn when a hot air balloon landed in Jeff and Petra Cochran’s Rochester driveway.
Reached by phone a few hours after the balloon landed, Petra Cochran said she was still shook up from the experience but was able to laugh about it as she recounted the tale to a Post Bulletin reporter.
“That was the excitement for the day,” she said.
The couple, who live on Third Avenue Southeast, less than a mile from the Olmsted County-City Government Center, said no one riding the balloon was injured, but they looked “a little shellshocked.”
The Cochrans said they had been watching the balloons earlier in the morning and noticed they looked stationary.
Mike Lesmeister, a hot air balloon operator who was not in that balloon, posted on Facebook that the balloon became wind stalled. The pilot of the balloon did not return a call for comment.
Petra said she was upstairs when all of a sudden, her dog started freaking out.
“I looked out, and there was half a balloon hanging out over the house,” she said.
Moments later, a ground crew pulled into the driveway. On its way down, the basket bumped two car roofs in the driveway.
“Their cars are OK,” Jeff said. “It was a soft landing.”
The landing brought neighbors out and caused quite a stir on social media.
Merri Ziebell, who lives a few doors down from where the balloon landed, said she was waking up after having worked an overnight shift when she heard a weird sound similar to drilling or scraping. Ziebell said she looked outside and saw a big balloon.
Jeff Cochran said the balloon appeared to have ripped, but his house was no worse for the experience.
“I thanked him for dropping in,” he said.