Balloon Fest – Michigan Challenge

Jun/29/2011 5 Malia Lane

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lucky for me, the Michigan Challenge Balloon Fest was being held the weekend I was staying at Brighton Recreation Area.  I had often seen pictures of this type event in Albuquerque when my brother lived there, but never was able to see one in person.

I just knew I’d enjoy it, but I didn’t know I’d be jumping up and down and clapping like a little kid by the time the balloons took to the air!

Maybe it was because for a while it didn’t look like the balloons were going to be able to take off.  After walking all around till my feet hurt, checking out all the booths, eating as much junk food as my stomach could stand, people-watching until it got so crowded everyone looked the same, it was 6:00 and time for the scheduled mass take off.  The announcer said it was too windy at that point and they would evaluate the conditions in an hour.  They had been forced to cancel the fly-in scheduled for early that morning due to the same problem.

Baloon layout preparation

By 7:45, the balloons were still just laid out in deflated rows and we could see the debate going on as to whether it was going to happen that night or not.  I was thinking, “What crappy luck today – I finally get to a balloon fest and they can’t take off!”

The announcer informed us that if they couldn’t take off soon, it wouldn’t happen at all that night because due to FDA regulations, the balloons cannot fly after dark.  Shortly thereafter, it was like I could feel a new sense of calm in the air, looked over to the group around the deflated balloons.  They were obviously taking a vote by raise of hands.  And while I would understood safety being the #1 priority, I was so glad to see the majority evaluated the conditions good enough and ruled this way…!

Balloon filling up

Yaay – the inflation process begins!

I was so glad I had kept my almost front row seat (even if the concrete curb was pretty uncomfortable) because I was close enough to feel the heat from the fire!

Baloon almost full

The next stage for this guy – almost there – while another one lifts off!

Airborne balloon

Airborne at last!

I loved how the crowd cheered as each one took flight and the pilots waved down to everyone.

Balloon Fest Collage

A collection of some of my favorite images and moments.

Balloon Fest Sunset

A pretty sunset framed the ones that stayed on the ground getting ready for the “After Glow” event when it got dark.

Balloon Fest After Glow

It was way cool to see them all light up at the same time against the dark sky.

I really loved this day, but now I have to add another thing to my “bucket list.”  I really, really want to take a ride in a hot air balloon at some point before my time in Michigan ends.  Wish me luck!