Go do it: Spirit of Boise balloons classic

doland@idahostatesman.comAugust 23, 2013 

Spirit of Boise balloon classic

This year 47 balloons are scheduled to fly over the City of Trees for the annual balloon event — that’s the most to gather in Ann Morrison Park in more than a decade, says event organizer Scott Spencer.

With so many hot air balloons on hand, he wanted to do something special. So, on Sept. 1, the pilots will pull off a “Great Launch.”

“We’re going to launch all of the balloons within about 2 minutes,” Spencer says. “It should be a spectacular sight.”

The other morning launches will be business as usual — balloons taking off during the morning starting at about 7 a.m.

Spencer and his wife, Laurie, both Idaho natives, started flying balloons over Boise in the 1980s with their company Lighter Than Air America.

Over the years, they’ve flown for Kellogg’s (Spencer flew the Tony The Tiger balloon), Coca-Cola and other corporations. Now they enjoy a relationship with Disney, flying balloons such as “Oz The Great and Powerful” over Central Park, Hollywood Boulevard and other famous spots.

The Spencers became part of the Boise River Festival, which ran from 1991 to 2003, and turned morning launches into an iconic event. After the festival ended, the balloon aspect continued as the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic. But it struggled until Peak Broadcasting senior vice president Kevin Godwin decided to get involved four years ago to help it grow.

“When I first moved here in the 1990s, I remember being so impressed at seeing the balloons flying over the city,” Godwin says. “I really wanted to make sure we kept that tradition. It’s just a great family event.”

This year’s balloons will include favorites such as Disney’s official Mickey Mouse Balloon (aka “The Happiest Balloon on Earth”), the Coca-Cola bottle, and the rocket-shaped Spaceport Boise balloon.

BALLOON SCHEDULE

- Hot air balloons take off beginning at about 7 a.m. Aug. 28-Sept. 1 from Ann Morrison Park. The pilots — who come from all across the country — will compete at different tasks each day.

- Aug. 30 is the popular Nite Glow and Concert. The event starts at 6 p.m. The balloons will light up at dusk to music from Boise’s Big Wow Band.

- Sept. 1 is the grand finale “Great Launch” and “Last Dance” at about 7 a.m.

All events are free.

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