We have never been to a hot air balloon fest before, so when we saw the local advertisement, we decided to go. So glad we did! The hard part was getting up at 5:00 AM! We wanted to leave by 6:00 AM, drive about 25 miles to Park City, and find a parking spot. We stopped by McDonald’s and picked up a couple of breakfast sandwiches. Gosh, I wouldn’t want to have to be at work at 6:00 AM! So we drove to Park City, parked and ate our breakfast in the dark! Soon other early arrivers started to show up. We walked down the path to the field where the balloons were to take off. It was cold! There was mist hovering over the wet grass. It was about 10 degrees colder in Park City at 43 degrees than in Heber City. I knew I should have taken my earmuffs! Others were more prepared than we were with blankets, chairs, heavy coats etc. And no sign of any balloons. We needed to be there early because the balloons were only supposed to be in the air from 7:00 AM until 9:00 AM.
According to the information we had, the balloons were to take off at 7:00 AM. But someone else standing beside me said the newspaper said it would be closer to 7:30. Alright, I can shiver for another 30 minutes! Didn’t happen, the field wasn’t’ opened for setup to the balloonists until 7:30 AM . So here they came in a line and each picked a marked off spot to set up and prepare to launch. It was still rather dark because the field is below a small mountain and the sun comes up over the back of it. So it takes longer for the sun to reach the field. The white line across the middle of the last 2 pictures was the mist that had still not completely burned off.
It was very interesting to see the work involved in putting one of these balloons together. It requires at least a 4 to 8 person team to accomplish it. The balloonists invited all of us to come close and watch them work. They also patiently explained each step to the crowd. One by one the balloons filled with air from their flat position on the ground. Then when there was enough propane gas in the balloon, it would slowly rise and set the attached basket upright. Other team members would lean on the basket to keep it from lifting until ready. One or more team members held on to a very long thick rope that was attached to the very top. This was to keep the balloon steady in one position, rather than roll around while being filled with air.
Then the exciting part was to watch the balloons ascend one by one into the air. They did not get into the air until 8:00 AM, a cold far cry from the scheduled 7:00AM! The sun still wasn’t completely over the mountain. It was so pretty to watch a balloon slowly rise and see the sun gradually reflect on it until completely in the sun and showing the vibrant colors.
It was fun to see! There were 14 balloons and about 200-300 people came to watch. This was the third annual event after the event had been closed for 20 years. Back then, as many as 20,000 people would come to watch the balloons. I bet watching even many more balloons than what we saw was quite awesome.