Several years ago a new event was added to the Kentucky Derby Festival list of events — The Great Balloon Glow. On the eve of the Great Balloon Race which happens early in the morning the Saturday before the Derby, all the hot air balloon teams have a practice session at dusk.
Over 30 hot air balloons packed into a small field on the east side of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center and thousands of spectators watch and wait as these behemoths are first inflated with a high speed fan followed by their propane powered jets.
Its amazing that they don’t wreck each other on the crowded field, a testimonial to the pilot’s skill and Mother Nature.
A large crowd of over 50 thousand gathered to watch the spectacle behind a fence. They were eventually allowed to walk the grounds, meet the crews and feel the massive heat from the jets once the balloons were mostly inflated and the winds calmed down.
A local radio station acted as the emcee’s for the event interviewing the crews and announcing each team. They eventually called for an “All Glow” where all balloons fired up at the same time creating an awe inspiring sight.
Mother Nature decided that the spectators had enough fun and the high winds which died down in time came back.
What a way to kick off our Derby week adventure. Tomorrow we will cover the actual balloon race.
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