CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. -- A couple celebrating a birthday and an unsuspecting Cleveland County family had a memorable encounter Monday night, courtesy of a hot air balloon.
Lesly Gibbon said around sunset, she and her two sons were getting ready to watch a movie.
"We were all three sitting on the couch," Gibbon recalled. "I just happened to catch a glimpse out the back door of something."
The "something" was a hot air balloon landing in her backyard.
It belonged to Bird's Eye Balloon Rides and a pilot was giving an aerial tour to Dr. William and Paige Shipley for his birthday.
"[It's] something I've always wanted to do," Dr. Shipley said. "Paige finally made it happen for me so I'm really grateful for that."
Due to the weather that night, the balloon happened to land right in Gibbon's backyard.
"The boys have always wanted them to land in our front yard," Gibbon said. "They'd go out and sometimes flag them down."
As the boys were mesmerized by the balloon and a crew came to deflate it, a problem emerged: the balloon's pilot normally gives a toast at the end of the flight, but the sun was quickly setting.
"I knew it was dark, and the pictures wouldn't be good," Gibbon said.
A marketing and event planner by trade, Gibbon immediately went to work.
"We invited them into our home and we threw a stranger a birthday party," Gibbon said.
"You would think of all the places you would land in the world and we just happened to land in the backyard of a wonderful family," Paige Shipley said. "They were so inviting."
Gibbon added, "[Dr. Shipley] said it was a birthday that he would never forget, and I told him that I would never forget his birthday either."