It’s been years, but hot-air balloons will once again float in the skies above Riverfest this year.
Taking part will be “local balloonists who were thrilled, quite honestly, when we reached out,” said the fest’s Ann Keefer. “They wanted to come back to the festival, but it’s an expensive hobby. Thankfully Meineke said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, we want them back.’ ”
Meineke’s sponsorship will allow six balloonists to set up and hopefully launch, weather permitting, the first weekend of the festival.
Years ago, balloons used to lift off from a Sim Park meadow in Riverside. This year, they will be on the south lawn of the Hyatt.
“We have to be patient and hope for calm winds,” Keefer said, because not only is ballooning expensive, it is dependent on the weather.
The balloons will try to lift off twice – on the first Saturday morning of the festival and the following Sunday evening – and there will be two “glows,” on the first Friday and Saturday nights. A glow means that the balloons are tethered to the ground but are fully inflated with burners lighted. If the weather doesn’t permit the balloons to be inflated, another possibility is a “candlestick glow,” which means the burners are lighted without inflation. The public will be able to visit with the balloonists during that time.
The balloons will first be on display at 6 p.m. Friday with a “glow” from 6 to 9 p.m.
The next morning, on Saturday, the balloons will try to lift off between 5:30 and 6 a.m., ahead of the River Run at 7 a.m. Then they will be back from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday for a glow only.
The second planned lift-off will be at 6 p.m. Sunday. If the weather isn’t favorable, the balloonists will try to have a glow instead.