One weekend a year, my town hosts a small balloon festival that corresponds with numerous local reunion activities (family and school). I usually get up early on Saturday morning to take part in the annual balloon festival launch. This was the 28th festival that my town has hosted, and I've attended many launches over the years because I love to wander the field as the giants are inflated. No matter how many times I attend the small festival (compared to the rally in Albuquerque, the festival is tiny with only 30 - 40 balloons) but the crowds are always huge. I am always captivated by the sheer size and beauty of the balloons.
My town has two hot-air balloons (Cloud Kisser and Cloud Kisser II) that are flown in various balloon festivals throughout the area to promote the town.
It is awesome to watch the crews prepare the balloons for flight. Standing amid the growing envelopes of air is heavenly, and when one by one they ascend into the warming atmosphere at various levels, I can only gape in wonder. I would love see this event through a child's eyes.
At the signal, crews unroll the balloon envelope on the ground.
Then large fans are used to inflate the balloon envelope before the propane burner is turned on and hot air is injected and slowly,
ever so slowly, the balloons mushroom to life all around.
The balloons politely bump and jostle for position in the cramped area until they are standing upright.
They continue to grow until the crowd begins to wonder if they will ever get off of the ground.
This is the Smokey Bear balloon, sponsored by the The Wind River Fire Prevention Council. The balloon is inflated with the nose on a protective cloth, so the face cannot be seen until the balloon is fully inflated. Oh, how the children love to watch this balloon come to life.
Sometimes rides are offered to people in town during the two-day event. It is very common to see the large balloons maneuver to land in a vacant lot or in the middle of an intersection to pick up passengers. I'd love to be up there soaring in the sky, drifting along without a care. I'd put that at the top of my "Bucket List."