Mayor Michael Coleman might to go up in a hot-air balloon on Aug. 25.

Mayor Michael Coleman might to go up in a hot-air balloon on Aug. 25.

Insert your own joke here about politicians and hot air.

Seriously, the city's highest elected official has been approached about, being taken aloft in a balloon, weather permitting, as part of the opening ceremonies for the inaugural Northland International Festival, according to Northland Alliance chair Joyce Bourgault.

The free community gathering is to take place Aug. 25 and 26 at Northland Village at Morse and Karl roads.

"Celebrating Our Diversity" is the theme for the festival, which is being sponsored by the Northland Alliance, the Northland Performing Arts Center, Chase Bank, Northland Community Council and North Side Health Advisory Committee.

The mayor's possible rise into the skies - spokesman Daniel R. Williamson said Coleman hasn't made a definite commitment -- would coincide with the conclusion of a parade of flags leading to the opening ceremonies in front of the headquarters of Franklin County Job and Family Services. Flags hanging from lampposts in the plaza in front of the former J.C. Penney building will be unfurled as Coleman takes off.

The flags will be from all the countries represented by Northland residents participating in the event, according to Bourgault. She has estimated there may be as many as 60 or 70 of them, and sponsors are being sought through a website created for the festival.

"We've got every politician you can imagine coming," Bourgault said last week, following the fifth Northland Nonprofit Summit.

The ongoing series of gatherings for personnel from agencies and organizations serving the Northland area was the impetus for launching an international festival.

"We are just now starting to sign up vendors and entertainment," Bourgault said. "We don't have any of the key entertainment signed up yet, but we know the people who are planning on it.

"We've got the planning pretty well set up. We've got the website and we hope people will look at it."

Entertainers, food purveyors, craft vendors and volunteers can visit http://northlandfest.org to learn about opportunities to participate.

Organizers are hoping more media coverage, along with an entry in the Northland Community Independence Day Parade, will alert people to the existence of the Aug. 25-26 event.

"That should be a promotional thing locally," Bourgault said.

She admitted that reaching immigrant populations who have settled in the Northland area in recent years in order to secure their participation will require a different approach.

"That's going to be more hands-on," she said.

Dr. J.S. Jindal, a retired dentist from Dublin and chairman of the Columbus International Festival, is on the steering committee for the Northland event. The advice he is providing has been invaluable, according to Bourgault.

"We're making all the right contacts," she said. "It's just giving things time to cook and doing more of the direct contact with people, but I think we're going to start seeing some of the results here in the next weeks.

"The first year, you're inventing the wheel. This next year, we're hoping it will be different."