Mission: Space City Sweepstakes Official Rules
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.
1. Eligibility: The Mission: Space City Sweepstakes (the "Sweepstakes") is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least eighteen (18) years old (or the age of majority in their state of residence, whichever is older) at the time of entry. Employees, officers and directors of 360i, United Airlines, Inc., Houston First Corporation and Greater Houston Convention & Visitor's Bureau, Space Center Houston, The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, HelloWorld, Inc., and their respective parent, subsidiaries and affiliate entities as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, stepparents, siblings, children, stepchildren and grandparents, regardless of where they reside) and individuals living in the same household as such individuals, regardless of relation, are not eligible to enter or win this Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited. Participation constitutes entrant's full and unconditional agreement to these Official Rules. Sponsor's and Administrator's decisions are final and binding in all matters related to the Sweepstakes. Winning the prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.
2. Sponsor: United Airlines, Inc., 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606. Administrator: HelloWorld, Inc., 3000 Town Center, Suite 2100, Southfield, MI 48075.
3. Timing: The Sweepstakes begins on June 21, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. Central Time ("CT") and ends on June 22, 2019 at 10:29 a.m. CT (the "Promotion Period"). Twitter's servers are the official time-keeping devices for the Sweepstakes.
4. How to Enter: To participate you must have a Twitter account. Twitter accounts are free, but subject to Twitter, Inc.'s terms of service: https://twitter.com/tos. Your account settings must be set to "unprotected" and/or "public" in order for your Tweets to be viewable by Sponsor and its agents. If you Tweet using your wireless phone, message and data rates may apply. Please consult your wireless-service provider regarding its pricing plans.
During the Promotion Period, Sponsor will post a Tweet about the Sweepstakes that includes a video, hashtags #MissionSpaceCity and #sweepstakes and the link to these Official Rules: uafly.co/X5laI ("Sponsor's Tweet").
To receive an entry, during the Promotion Period, Retweet Sponsor's Tweet.
You need not include any additional content with your Retweet. However, if you choose to include additional content, it must be your original work and must not be indecent, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, libelous, contain material that violates or infringes another's rights, disparage Sponsor or any other person or party, or contain material that is unlawful in any way.
You automatically will receive one (1) entry into the Sweepstakes for your qualified Retweet. Sponsor may disqualify your Retweet if it determines that it finds it to be unlawful, or in violation of these Official Rules. Released Parties (as defined in Section 7, below) are not responsible for lost, late, unreceived, damaged, incomplete, invalid, un-intelligible, or delayed Retweets or failure to receive the Retweet due to limitations of third-party social network platforms all of which will be void.
Limit: You may enter one (1) time during the Promotion Period. Multiple entrants are not permitted to share the same Twitter account. Any attempt by any entrant to obtain more than one (1) entry by using multiple/different Twitter accounts, identities, registrations and logins, or any other methods will void that entrant's entries and that entrant may be disqualified. Use of any automated system to participate is prohibited and will result in disqualification. In the event of a dispute as to any registration, the authorized account holder of the Twitter account used to register will be deemed to be the entrant. The "authorized account holder" is the natural person assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses used to create the Twitter account. The potential winner may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder.
5. Prize Drawing: Administrator is an independent judging organization whose decisions as to the administration and operation of the Sweepstakes drawing and the selection of the potential winner are final and binding in all matters related to the Sweepstakes. Administrator will randomly select the potential Sweepstakes winner from all eligible entries received during the Promotion Period, on or around June 24, 2019. After the drawing, the potential winner will be notified by @united as a reply message or Direct Message on Twitter and will be required to follow the instructions to provide their name, email address, home mailing address and date of birth to confirm eligibility and for prize fulfillment purposes within forty-eight (48) hours of the date notice or attempted notice is sent, in order to claim the prize. The potential winner will be required to sign and return a Declaration of Compliance, Liability Waiver and, where not prohibited, a Publicity Release ("Declaration") which must be received by Administrator, within forty-eight (48) hours of the date notice or attempted notice is sent, in order to claim the prize. If a potential winner of any prize cannot be contacted, fails to sign and return the Declaration or provide any other requested information, within the required time period, or the prize is returned as undeliverable, the potential winner forfeits the prize. Receiving the prize is contingent upon compliance with these Official Rules. In the event that the potential winner is disqualified for any reason, time permitting, Sponsor will award the prize to an alternate winner by random drawing from among all remaining eligible entries. Only three (3) alternate drawings will be held, after which the prize will remain un-awarded.
6. Prize: ONE (1) GRAND PRIZE: A trip for winner and one (1) guest to Houston, Texas on United's space flight (the "Trip package"). Trip package includes one way, economy air transportation for two (2) from a major airport near winner's home (determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion) to New York, NY vicinity; one way economy air transportation for two (2) on United Airlines' July 17, 2019 "Space Flight" from Newark International Airport to Houston, TX; one way, economy air transportation for two (2) from Houston, TX to a major airport near winner's home (determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion); two (2) nights' accommodations at a hotel determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion (single room, double occupancy); two (2) Houston CityPASSes (terms and conditions apply); a $100 H Town Restaurant Group gift card (terms and conditions apply): a Level 9 VIP Tour for two (2) at Space Center Houston (all details determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion); and two (2) tickets to Space Center Houston's Space on Screen screening and dinner on July 18, 2019 (all details determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion); and travel agent services. Winner must travel on July 17-19, 2019 or prize will be forfeited in its entirety. Trip must be booked at least seven (7) days prior to departure. Travel and accommodations are subject to availability. Travel must be round trip. Sponsor will determine airline and flight itinerary in its sole discretion. No refund or compensation will be made in the event of the cancellation or delay of any flight. Travel is subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this Sweepstakes, and those set forth by the Sponsor's airline carrier of choice as detailed in the passenger ticket contract. All expenses and incidental travel costs not expressly stated in the package description above, including but not limited to, meals, ground transportation, incidentals, gratuities, passenger tariffs or duties, airline fees, surcharges, airport fees, service charges or facility charges, personal charges at lodging, security fees, taxes or other expenses are the responsibility solely of winner. Winner's guest must be eighteen (18) years of age or older as of the date of departure, unless said guest is the minor child of the winner. If the minor child of winner, guest must be fourteen (14) years of age or older as of the date of departure. Winner's guest must travel on same itinerary and at the same time as the winner. Winner's guest must execute liability/publicity releases prior to issuance of travel documents. Travel restrictions, conditions and limitations may apply. If in the judgment of Sponsor air travel is not required due to winner's proximity to Newark or Houston, ground transportation will be substituted for air travel at Sponsor's sole discretion. Sponsor will not replace any lost, mutilated, or stolen tickets, travel vouchers or certificates. Approximate Retail Value: $4,927.85. Actual value may vary based on airfare fluctuations and distance between departure and destination. Winner will not receive difference between actual and approximate retail value.
Prize is non-transferable, not redeemable for cash and no substitution will be made except as provided herein at the Sponsor's sole discretion. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute the prize or any prize component for one of equal or greater value if the designated prize should become unavailable for any reason. Winner is responsible for all taxes and fees associated with prize receipt and/or use. Odds of winning the prize depend on the number of eligible entries received during the Promotion Period.
Sponsor is not responsible if any event is delayed, postponed or cancelled for any reason, in which that portion of prize is forfeited in its entirety and no substitution will be provided except as in Sponsor's sole discretion. Tickets may be subject to standard rain-check policies and procedures. By accepting ticket prize, winner agrees to abide by any terms, conditions and restrictions provided by the ticket. The Sponsor is not responsible if winner does not use ticket on day of event. The attendance by any specific astronaut is not guaranteed and shall be subject to such astronaut's availability and Sponsor's sole discretion. In the event the winner and/or guest engage in behavior that, as determined by Sponsor, in their sole discretion, is obnoxious or threatening, illegal or that is intended to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the trip or any element of the prize early, in whole or in part, and send the winner and/or his or her guest home, with no further compensation. Winner and guest must obey all rules and complete any paperwork required for the prize, including but not limited to any additional releases, contracts, non-disclosure agreements, waivers required by the Sponsor and, failure to sign such paperwork and/or to furnish all required information on dates selected by Sponsor in their sole discretion will result in forfeiture of the prize.
7. Release: By participation in this Sweepstakes, entrants agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, Administrator, 360i, Space Center Houston, Houston First Corporation and Greater Houston Convention & Visitor's Bureau, The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Twitter, Inc., and their respective subsidiaries, affiliates, suppliers, distributors, advertising/promotion agencies, and prize suppliers, and each of their respective parent companies and each such company's officers, directors, employees and agents (collectively, the "Released Parties") from and against any claim or cause of action, including, but not limited to, personal injury, death, or damage to or loss of property, arising out of participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize.
8. Publicity: Except where prohibited, participation in the Sweepstakes constitutes winner's consent to Sponsor's and its agents' use of winner's name, prize information, likeness, Retweet, photograph (including, without limitation, winner's Twitter profile photo), voice, opinions and/or hometown and state for promotional purposes in any media, worldwide, without further payment or consideration.
9. General Conditions: Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the Sweepstakes, or any part of it, if any fraud, technical failures, human error or any other factor impairs the integrity or proper functioning of the Sweepstakes, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. In such event, Sponsor, in its sole discretion, may elect to hold a random drawing from among all eligible entries received up to the date of discontinuance for any or all of the prizes offered herein. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or to be acting in violation of the Official Rules of this or any other promotion or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. Sponsor's failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision.
10. Limitations of Liability: The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (3) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (4) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (5) late, lost, undeliverable, damaged or stolen mail; or (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant's participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize. If for any reason an entrant's entry is confirmed to have been erroneously deleted, lost, not received, or otherwise destroyed or corrupted, entrant's sole remedy is another entry in the Sweepstakes, if it is possible. No more than the stated number of prizes will be awarded. In the event that production, technical, seeding, programming or any other reasons cause more than the stated number of prizes as set forth in these Official Rules to be available and/or claimed, Sponsor reserves the right to award only the stated number of prizes by a random drawing among all legitimate, un-awarded, eligible prize claims.
11. Disputes: Except where prohibited, entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Southern Division) or the appropriate Michigan State Court located in Oakland County, Michigan; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes, but in no event attorneys' fees; and (3) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of Michigan without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of Michigan or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Michigan; provided that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with the premiere portion of the prize and the intellectual property of Disney, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of California and in the event of any dispute, all entrants irrevocably consent to the jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in Los Angeles, California to resolve such disputes.
13. Winner List: For a winner list, visit http://bit.ly/2RcXGGf. The winner list will be posted after winner confirmation is complete.
© 2019 HelloWorld, Inc. All rights reserved.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Twitter, Inc.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month — recognized nationwide from September 15 to October 15 — we're highlighting the extraordinary impact of Hispanic Americans on our nation, starting close to home with our more than 13,000 Hispanic colleagues at United.
As part of our festivities, we're showcasing the stories of a few of our Hispanic employees, who were nominated by their colleagues as rock stars. In addition to their personal or professional achievements, these employees were selected because of the significant contributions they've made to United by going above and beyond to help our customers, their fellow colleagues, and the communities we serve, thrive. Whether donating their time volunteering for a worthy cause, leveraging their unique perspective to address a critical business challenge or helping foster an inclusive culture, they make United a better place to work. Let's get to know them better here.
Captain Gabriel (Gabe) Vaisman, based in Houston, has been part of the United family for over 34 years. As a native of Argentina who immigrated to the U.S. with his family at a young age, Gabe faced multiple challenges during his school years, including financial struggles and learning a new language. However, with discipline and determination, and even working two jobs in high school, he was able to obtain his commercial pilot's license and multi-engine rating at the age of 18. He quickly moved up the ladder and landed his first job at United in 1985, where he continued to move up and became a captain for our Boeing 737 fleet 22 years ago. When he is not busy flying customer to their destinations, you can find Gabe visiting children hospitals as part of his volunteering efforts with the Pilots For Kids organization in Houston. For the past 14 months, he has also served on the board of Lone Star College, acting as an advisor for their professional pilot degree program and inspiring a new generation of pilots.
Gabe pictured at a lecture at Lone Star College (LSC), with LSC students, and at one of our recent events for Girls in Aviation Day.
"All the volunteer work I do has helped change one life at a time, and I hope that my career story inspires anyone who feels hopeless with no way out of their current situation. The message I always try to leave with young people is that no matter what career you choose, you will have to sacrifice time and maybe give up a few good times with your friends to accomplish what you are pursuing."
Vania Montero Wit
The daughter of Bolivian immigrants, Vania earned her law degree from Harvard University and joined United's legal department 20 years ago. Throughout the years, Vania Montero Wit has advanced to become one of the key leaders of United's legal department as vice president and deputy general counsel. As one of the highest-ranking Latinas at United, Vania represents a crack in the glass ceiling for Hispanic women in corporate America. Despite the heavy demands of her job, Vania is very generous with her time, serving as executive sponsor for uIMPACT, a business resource group supporting women at United, and has given career advice to employees as a panelist for UNITE, United Airlines multi-cultural business resource group. She has made a positive impact in the community as Chair of the legal department's Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, where she even took on and won an asylum case. Vania's compassion for others and continued support of the company's diversity-and-inclusion initiatives make her a role model for both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike.
Vania (center) speaking at a leadership event at United.
" As a working Latina woman, I strive to be a role model for any and all who are working in a corporate environment and struggling to find their voice or simply looking to make connections and expand their network. My long tenure at United has afforded me a range of experiences and teaching moments all of which I am happy to share with others."
Katherine Gil Mejia
Katherine Gil Mejia is a human resources representative for United Ground Services in at New York/Newark. A native of the Dominican Republic who moved to the U.S. only 8 years ago, she joined United shortly after at the young age of 19. With her work ethic and drive, she quickly became a go-to-person for many departments offering assistance or guidance when needed. Katherine never hesitates to step in and translate for customers or colleagues that are struggling with a language barrier, and she does so while providing amazing customer service. Katherine's knowledge of United — as well as her caring and friendly personality — have earned her the trust and respect of her colleagues. Katherine also has a passion for helping others, giving back, and making a difference in the community. She always offers to volunteer during United Airlines Fantasy Flights, and when she can, she also takes the time to bring Ben Flying bears to kids at hospitals.
Katherine in Newark.
"I know the language barrier for some employees can play a role in potential miscommunication. I often put myself in their shoes and try to relate. My upbringing in Dominican Republic taught me to work and trust my neighbors, community and family. It was natural to bring that trust mentality into work with my colleagues and employees. I believe that is what makes me successful in HR."
Antonio (Tony) Valentin has been working as a ramp service employee at Chicago O'Hare for three years. He's earned the respect of his colleagues by going above and beyond and always stepping in to help both colleagues and customers alike. It's not rare to find him around the terminal translating for Spanish-speaking customers and helping them find their ways to their gates. Tony's caring personality shines beyond the airport in all the volunteering work he does in the local community, especially in the Chicago Humboldt Park area, and in the work he has done as lieutenant commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, including his deployment to Puerto Rico where he assisted with relief effort after Hurricane Maria.
Antonio at Chicago O'Hare.
"I've always had a passion for helping people and I truly believe that being a good person is equal to being successful. As a prior educator, I am always encouraging members of RSE (ramp service employees) to return to school and to live their lives as lifelong learners."
Sylvia Gomez is the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents that moved to the U.S. in 1960. At the age of 5, her family moved back to Mexico so they could build strong connections with their heritage and culture. They eventually returned to the U.S. in pursuit of a better education, as her father believed that education was the key to success. The move back to the U.S. was not easy, but it gave Sylvia the opportunity to understand two different cultures, which has been instrumental in her career. She recently celebrated 30 years at United, where she currently serves as managing director of IT Infrastructure Program Management. Sylvia has been making a mark in the company with her efforts to pass forward her experience and knowledge, and she spends a great amount of her time mentoring United employees. She is currently mentoring five young women, and she also makes sure to stay in touch with previous mentees to make sure they are still on a path toward success. She is also an active participant on the planning committee for a Women in Technology group and volunteers with Junior Achievement USA, mostly working with inner-city high school students.
Sylvia (center) pictured with Digital Products managing director, Francisco Trejo and Security Technology managing director, Diego Souza at the HITEC San Jose Summit.
"Always look for people that have been there and learn from them. And, always look to see who you can help. Never underestimate the power of having people around you. Have the confidence to take risks and celebrate your successes."
Carlos Palacio, a lead customer service representative in Houston, has been part of the United family for 20 years. When speaking to Carlos, you can clearly see how passionate he is about his job and about United, and embracing his Cuban heritage has been instrumental in delivering excellent customer service at the airport. He even takes extra time with Hispanic customers that cannot speak English, making sure they have all their travel documents and that they have all they need for their journeys. On his spare time, the new father often travels to Latin American countries like Colombia and Cuba to visit children's hospitals and to donate schools supplies for children in need. Seeing the smiles of the little kids he helps keeps Carlos motivated and pushes him to continue his efforts to help others.
Carlos pictured in the cockpit of a United aircraft (left) as well as donating school supplies to children (right).
"I want young people to know that this is a great country … to go to school and make a career and pay attention to mom and dad who want the best for them, and one more thing, never forget we are all human. My culture is very fundamental in my job. I help people every day who need help in Spanish. Speaking Spanish at work helps many of our customers."
Roberto Hernandez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His passion for travel and customer service ultimately led him to the airline industry four years ago, when he joined United as a flight attendant. Roberto worked as a purser for a while, displaying excellent leadership skills and customer service. He now works as a base supervisor at New York/Newark and is also the local chapter director for EQUAL, a business resource group at United. In his role at EQUAL, Roberto has been focused on fostering diversity and inclusion at United, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, he recently played a great role organizing this year's company celebration of Pride in New York and was there front and center representing our company in Pride Live's Stonewall Day on World Pride. Roberto really values his heritage and culture, and is very proud of where he comes from, which is why he did not hesitate to help with the relief efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Roberto, posing in the engine of one of United's aircraft.
"I bring my true, authentic self to work each day, ready to assist in whatever way I can. When I say 'true, authentic self' I mean the person I was raised to be. A kind, caring and patient individual who is ready to assist in any way I can. I think the most important piece is to respect each other and to learn from one another. Be proud of who you are, no matter where you're from. We're all different, but if we all integrate together we can make things happen. That's what I love about United. We're doing that."
In their own distinct way, these rock stars exemplify the many ways our company is enriched by our differences and unique journeys. When we create an environment where people feel valued, this influences how we treat one another and our customers across the globe. In the words of our chief executive officer, Oscar Muñoz: "This month is also an opportunity for us to think about our efforts to build bridges between cultures and communicate authentically to all the communities we serve," he said. "By becoming more culturally aware, we can be more effective ambassadors for United's values around the world and embody them in the way we serve our customers and one another."
We hope you're as inspired by this group of dedicated, passionate and talented rock stars as we are.
Yirlany Moya, a United aircraft move team employee in Los Angeles, is nothing if not an eternal optimist. Which is part of the reason why, for the longest time, she wasn't too concerned about the lump that had formed in her right breast. It couldn't be serious, she reasoned. After all, she was young and healthy.
One afternoon, while talking with her neighbor Cari, Moya joked about the "little ball," as she called it. Cari shot her a serious look and urged her friend to get it checked out. Moya's sister, Joscelyn, did the same after hearing about the lump, but, for weeks, Moya stubbornly refused.
"I kept telling them, 'It's not cancer, stop being negative.'"
Finally, the pestering got to her and Moya called her mom, Esther, who is a retired nurse, for advice. Over the phone, Esther told her daughter not to worry, but talked her into coming to Costa Rica, where she was living, so that they could see a doctor together just in case.
There, a physician examined Moya. When he finished, he asked her to get dressed and meet him in his office. With a grave expression on his face, he said there was a fairly significant chance the mass was cancerous. Her mother broke down in tears, but Moya took the news in stride, not yet ready to consider the worst-case possibilities. It wasn't until she was back in Los Angeles a few days later, after a mammogram and ultrasound confirmed that she had stage-3 cancer, that reality set in.
In March of 2017, Moya underwent a double mastectomy, followed by a difficult three months of chemotherapy. By that fall, she was cancer free, but she wasn't physically able to return to work until October 2018. When she did finally get back to the airport, it was a welcome return to normalcy and a long-awaited reunion with her colleagues, many of whom are like family to Moya after 23 years with the airline.
They welcomed her back with open arms and she, in turn, talked openly about her cancer with them, hoping that it might help someone else. There's nothing wrong with assuming the positive, Moya says, but she tells other women to get checked out immediately if they notice a lump or anything else out of the ordinary. She also reminds them of the importance of yearly mammograms. And recently, when her supervisor was diagnosed with a form of cancer, she guided him through his treatments with encouragement and advice.
Sometimes, she's certain that she went through her ordeal so that she could be a beacon for others in that way. If that's the case, she feels it was worth it. Cancer gave her an ironclad resolve to spread goodness and hope. Her tattoos say it all: Inked across her chest, where her breasts once were, is an anatomically correct heart wrapped in bright pink swirls, with the words "Life doesn't allow you to be weak." On her right calf is a cancer awareness ribbon, with splotches of pink exploding out of it, symbolic of Moya's unbridled joy, which stems from her feeling of unending gratitude.
Moya's Tattoo across her chest: "Life doesn't allow you to be weak."
"I'm in a good place in my life," Moya says today, two years removed from her last round of chemotherapy. "I have a great job, and I'm blessed with a great family and great support system. I wake up every day and give thanks to God. I think there was a bigger purpose for what I went through. Ask me what it is, and I can take a guess, but I haven't figured it out yet. One day, though, I know the dots will connect."
Ask someone to name their favorite thing about fall and you'll likely get a different answer depending on where they live. For many people, the mosaic of vibrantly colored leaves and foliage is what defines the months of September through mid-December. Others find the scent of autumnal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric is what makes the fall so special. And for some, it's the cooler temperatures that make being outside even more enjoyable. Plus, fall is full of fun activities no matter where you are — from pumpkin patches and apple picking to watching football and enjoying a bowl of chili. All of these things, and more, make the fall so magical. To help you celebrate the season, here are seven fall-themed activities to try this year.
Go apple picking
Apple picking combines outdoor fun with delicious and healthy snacks that can be used in a variety of ways, making it the perfect fall activity for adults and children of all ages. Though you'll find countless orchards around the country worth visiting this season, New England is widely considered a prime apple picking destination with over 120 varieties found in the region. It can be argued that the variety they are best known for is the McIntosh apple. This type of apple and many more can be found at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in the lovely town of Stow, Massachusetts, so be sure to stop in and take home a bushel that you pluck from the trees yourself. Picking times are from 9 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily, making it easy to schedule a trip.
Meanwhile in California, apple season runs until the end of November, giving you plenty of time to pick a few baskets of Red Delicious or Gala apples before winter. Riley's at Los Rios Rancho in the city of Yucaipa is one of the largest farms of its kind in Southern California and has been welcoming apple pickers to their 10,000-tree farm for more than 100 years.
Visit a pumpkin patch
If there was a fall mascot, it would be a pumpkin, so to celebrate the true essence of the season, it's hard to beat a trip to a colorful pumpkin patch. A pumpkin patch is more than just a place to find the perfect candidate for this year's prize-winning jack-o'-lantern, it's a wonderful way to create cherished new memories with your children or friends. The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, New York, is perfect for pumpkin picking, but also offers weekend activities throughout the fall, including scarecrow making lessons, cider brewing demonstrations, pumpkin pie eating contests, and live music and barbecues.
If you're traveling through the Midwest this season, hop aboard a vintage farm wagon at Polly's Pumpkin Patch in Chilton, Wisconsin, and make your way out into their scenic fields where you can pick as many pumpkins as you want. Other activities at Polly's include a livestock petting zoo, a 40-foot slide and a popular corn cannon that lets older kids launch corn cobs at targets for cash prizes.
Enjoy a harvest festival
An annual tradition in America that dates back to 1613, harvest festivals are outdoor celebrations that coincide with the growing and reaping seasons we all enjoy. Filled with food, fun, music and dance, you haven't truly experienced the wonder of the fall season until you've participated in a local harvest fest. The good news is that there are plenty to choose from around the country this year. Two of the most popular are the Autumn at the Arboretum festival in Dallas, Texas, which runs until October 31, and the incredible North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival in Whiteville, North Carolina, which ends on November 3. Both of these festivals have been drawing huge crowds for years.
For a harvest fest that's slightly spookier, head to Wisconsin where you'll find the classic Jack O' Lantern Days celebration in the cozy town of Fish Creek, and the Halloween-themed Zombie Days festival on the coast of Chequamegon Bay. Ghoulish activities include an undead musical show, a zombie pub crawl and a traditional harvest festival pumpkin parade. The scary fun lasts from October 26 through October 27.
Hit the trails
Hiking is more than just great exercise; it's an excellent way to bring the whole family together during the fall. And since the leaves are changing colors, it's also a great way to snap some incredible nature photos. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your kids and your camera, and find a trail that's right for you. If you're looking for suggestions, Sterling Point Trail in Vermont and Rome Point Trail in Rhode Island are impossible to beat when it comes to picturesque fall hiking.
On the opposite side of the country, the trails at Dry Creek Falls in Portland, Oregon, were voted one of the most photogenic hiking spots on the west coast by BuzzFeed, and it's easy to see why once you've been there. Covering a distance of just over 4 miles, this beautiful trail is perfect for all skill levels, making it a solid choice for families with kids.
Roll in the hay
Hayrides and corn mazes are traditional fall activities that have never gone out of style, and for very good reason. There's just something wonderfully nostalgic about introducing a new generation of children to the simple pleasures of wandering through an overgrown corn maze, and with so many participating farms scattered across the country, there's a plethora of options to choose from. The Johnny Appleseed corn maze at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, Pennsylvania, and the popular horse-drawn hayride at Papa's Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck, North Dakota, are two of the best.
In honor of Halloween, the massive haunted hayride at Fear Farm in Phoenix, Arizona, brings an assortment of ghosts, goblins and ghouls to life from early October until the first week in November. Filled with sinister special effects, creepy costumes and macabre makeup, this Hollywood-worthy hayride is recommended for adults and children over the age of 12. With five terrifying corn mazes to choose from, Fear Farm certainly lives up to its name!
Up, up and away
Hot air ballooning during the fall is a dazzling way to experience the season in all its natural splendor. After all, how else can you get a spectacular birds-eye view of the colorful trees as their leaves change from green to golden orange? Balloons Over Letchworth, located near New York's Letchworth State Park, offers astonishing views of the surrounding area, including majestic waterfalls and stunning forests. Best of all, they offer a variety of family tour packages, so you'll find just what you're looking for, regardless of the size of your group.
If you're visiting Southern California's wine region this fall, reserve a balloon ride with the fine folks at California Dreamin'. Their friendly FAA commercial licensed pilots will take you and your family on an unforgettable balloon voyage high above the vineyards of Temecula wine country.
Pitch a tent
Though typically associated with summer, in many ways the fall is truly the best time of year to go camping. Thanks to the cooler weather, there are few — if any — insects to bother you and your family. Plus, there are less people claiming all the best spots, so you should have no problem picking a prime location to pitch your tent. And when it comes to toasting marshmallow for s'mores over an open campfire, everyone agrees that they simply taste better when eaten on a brisk autumn night.
For the ultimate fall camping trip, book a spot at Earth First Farms in southwest Michigan and set up your tent in an actual organic apple orchard. The 49-acre farm provides campers with complimentary firewood and plenty of fresh produce to pick.