As a gentle morning breeze picked up a bit, Laura Miller watched the string she was holding move upward and then jockeyed for position to keep the trajectory going.

Balloons over school

The balloon arrangement flies about St. Thomas More Catholic School.

“It’s an art,” she attested, as she moved some more. “Every once in a while, the wind cooperates and gets it up there.”

Across the St. Thomas More Catholic School athletic field, Elaine Pensock had a string of her own, also tied to an array of balloons shaped into the beads and cross of the Holy Rosary.

“It’s a great way to honor the Blessed Mother,” she explained.

Each year, St. Thomas celebrates October as the month of the Holy Rosary by flying the appropriately shaped balloons above the school, with Parent-Teacher Guild member Pensock serving as the primary organizer.

“The kids love it,” she said. “You’ll see a lot of parents coming to watch it, too. They’ll take time out of their morning.”

Conditions early on Oct. 2 were exceptionally cooperative for this time of year, with the temperature in the low 70s by the time the Balloon Rotary proceedings started.

“We’re usually fighting the wind,” Pensock said. “So the weather is perfect today.”

Laura Miller

Laura Miller helps keep the balloon arrangement aloft.

Students joined staff and family members to gather outside the school for prayer, with several eighth-graders sharing in the reading of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary: Madison Adams, Luke Cramer, Delainey Dusch, Elena Esquivel, Katie Smith, Danielle Tomley and Kathleen Weldon.

According to, the tradition of dedicating October to the Holy Rosary could date as far back as the 13th century, and the practice became widespread after St. Pius V attributed the European Catholic states’ Oct. 7, 1571, victory over the Ottoman Empire to the fact that at the same time the Rosary confraternities at Rome and elsewhere were holding their processions. The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary commemorates that day annually.

Rosary readers

The group of eighth-grade readers of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary include, from left, Danielle Tomley, Elena Esquivel, Luke Cramer, Madison Adams and Delainey Dusch.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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