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Culture

Thrills Lighter Than Air

balloon-fest

This past weekend, a few of my friends and I took a 50-minute drive to Baton Rouge to enjoy the annual Pennington Hot Air Balloon Festival. For the past few years, I had been hearing about how great it was from a multitude of family and friends and decided to see what all the fuss was about.

We arrived around 6 p.m. The event begins much earlier, but it’s August in South Louisiana, which translates to “excruciatingly hot.” We killed time to beat the heat and took advantage of VIP tickets to the COX tent — they are a yearly sponsor of the event. We spent the first part of our experience in that tent enjoying the perks before exploring the grounds. Balloon owners were scattered around the grassy area, but no balloons were inflated. The owners remained pleasantly accessible; you could walk up and talk to them right next to the baskets. I struck up a conversation with a friendly ballooner, asked why they were not flying and was notified that the air was too turbulent. Oh, no, I thought. Did I bring my friends out here for nothing?

As we ventured around the site, there was a band playing on a stage, games and rides for all ages (mostly kids) and food vendors like I’ve never seen. Then, suddenly, action. Balloons were being rolled out onto the grass. We hurriedly found a spot and set up camp to watch. There were about 35 balloons slowly being inflated while onlookers sat just three feet away. It was amazing!

By the time the balloons stood tall, the sun had set. The announcer on stage directed the balloon operators for what they called the “Balloon Glow.” The countdown began, and the photo attached shows what an amazing site was revealed.

 

All in all, the balloon festival was great and the “Balloon Glow” was the highlight of the event.