St. Louis residents have eyes in the skies

September 27, 2013 by  

Friday, September 20, was the day the balloon went up—literally.

St. Louis residents had fun watching the Balloon Glow event that preceded the race the following day. The Balloon Glow, which was held in Central Field, gets its name from the practice of having balloonists fire up their burners after dark. The balloons do not lift off, but the flames from the burners make them glow and take the appearance of gigantic lanterns.

This year, spectators had to walk to see the balloons, rather than driving through the park. The event began at 7:00 pm and concluded at approximately 9:15 pm, and was followed by a fireworks display.

The race itself was held Saturday, and started from the same Central Field area. The festivities started at noon, with opening ceremonies starting at 3:30 pm. Among the activities were live music, children’s entertainment, a photo contest, and skydivers. The race itself began at 4:30 pm when the Energizer Bunny balloon, known as ‘The Hare’, was released. The rest of the field started approximately 15 minutes later. The winner of the race was Joe Nusrala of St. Louis, with Michael Boylin in second place and Larry Owen coming in third.

The contest, which was instituted in 1973, is one of a handful of races held in a major metropolitan area. More than 150,000 people are estimated to have attended the event.

Event organizers could work with a postcard printing service to create cards to mail to this year’s attendees. A photo of a balloon on the front, and details about next year’s race could encourage people to return for another fun weekend in 2014.