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Up, up and away

7/27/2016

If you haven’t seen the majesty of 100 hot air balloons filling the Iowa sky with a cascade of colors on a peaceful summer night, you need to make it priority No. 1 to get to the The National Balloon Classic in Indianola. Step out of your air-conditioned house and treat your eyes and heart to something special.

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The 2016 National Balloon Classic will be held July 29 to Aug. 6 in Indianola.

An Iowa tradition for more than 40 years, the nine-day event brings some of the most spectacular balloons of all shapes and sizes to central Iowa. But that’s not all. There will be live music, entertainment, food and much, much more.

So now that you’re planning to go, here are the basics. The Balloon Field is located at 15335 Jewell St., east of Indianola on Highway 92. The morning admission is free, and in the evening, admission is $5 for those ages 6 and older (children ages 5 and younger are free). Another plus is that the parking is free. Gates open at 5 a.m. in the morning and 4 p.m. in the evening session.

As if the spectacle of hot air balloons isn’t enough, special events have been planned to sweeten things up for spectators even more.

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During the Nite Glow and Nite Glow Extravaganza, inflated balloons will light up the night sky, and guests are invited onto the launch field for an up-close, one-of-a-kind view. Nite Glow will take place on Sunday, July 31 and Friday, Aug. 5.

During Dawn Patrol, pilots will launch prior to sunrise and fly until it is light enough to land. Balloons flying in the dark are a rare phenomenon in ballooning, so bring your camera (and, it’s recommended, your flashlight). Dawn Patrol will take place on Saturday, July 30; Wednesday, Aug. 3; and Saturday, Aug. 6.

The Wacky Classic Parade, which will be held in the streets of Indianola on Saturday, July 30 at 11 a.m., is a tradition of the National Balloon Classic that will continue this year.

On Throw Back Thursday (Aug. 4), attendees are asked to wear their oldest balloon T-shirt and post a photo to the event’s Facebook page. Other Thow Back Thursday highlights include “Crappy Beer” Night and a walk-through balloon experience on the field.

A 5K Off-Road Balloon Challenge will be held on Saturday, July 30 at 8 a.m. at the National Balloon Classic Memorial Balloon Field, and fireworks shows kick off and wrap up the event on Saturday, July 30 and Saturday, Aug. 6, respectively.

Music is always a big part of the event, too, beginning on Friday, July 29 with

Bonne Finken         and the Collective. On Saturday, July 30, The Nadas will perform, followed by Abby Normal (July 31), Monday Mourners (Aug. 1), Randy Burk and the Prisoners (Aug. 2), Damon Dotson Band (Aug. 3), Past Vertical (Aug. 4), The Pianopalooza Band Tony Bohmenkamp and Jerry Lorenson, and Decoy (Aug. 5). Performances will take place on the Classic stage during evening balloon flights.

Want to create a memory from the event that will last a lifetime? Take a ride in a balloon. Balloon rides are offered each morning and evening —  weather permitting — during the event. Spots fill quickly so schedule your reservation in advance by calling 815-777-2747 or email at galenaonthefly@yahoo.com.

To purchase general admission tickets online, visit www.NationalBalloonClassic.com.

There you have it. Get out of the house and up, up and away. CV

 

NATIONAL BALLOON CLASSIC

1601 N. Jefferson Way, Indianola

July 29 to Aug. 6

5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

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