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|Balloon championship in Baton Rouge|
In joking reference to political rhetoric in Louisiana's Capital City, Ballooning Foundation Director and pilot George Richard says the upcoming Aug. 7-9 balloon race is "The best use of hot air in America!"
Sports Illustrated calls the Baton Rouge race one of "America's Top 25 Summer Essentials" while the National AAA dubs it a "Travel Treasure." For this reason, the Pennington-Louisiana State Hot-Air Balloon Championship consistently averages 60,000 spectators each year.
"The race keeps being well attended because Louisiana delivers the best local hot air balloon race in the nation. Thirty-eight pilots from 11 states are flying back this year because they have fun, too," Richard says. "And it's an all-family free event that kids of all ages enjoy."
Balloon pilots fly their 65,000-90,000 cubic foot airships just feet over thousands of spectators at Pennington Field adjacent to the Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road in south Baton Rouge. They attempt to hit multiple targets on the ground while sometimes fierce winds sweep them away. In the "Pole Grab," pilots triangulate wind currents from a mile away aiming for a 30-foot "Red Stick" on the top of which is a cash grand prize. They have one exciting shot as they fly by the pole.
Competition for State Balloon Champion covers three weekend mornings, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 7, 8 and 9, 2009. Starting at 3:00 in the afternoon on Friday and Saturday, bands kick off with BREC's Childrens' Village opening at 4:00. Family entertainment continues at 6 p.m., as U.S. Army "Black Daggers" skydivers twirl down from the sky as 20 balloons launch in a mass ascension. At 8:00, balloons come back to Pennington for a nighttime "balloon glow," firing off burners to create 7-story-tall light bulbs. Skydivers jump again wearing rockets for a light show amid the stars. Finally, a professional fireworks show set to music caps off each night.
The event and parking are free with food and gift booths on site. Bring a blanket and camera. All events are subject to weather conditions and WBRZ will provide updates. The championship and Pennington Field close after the Sunday morning flight.
For more information, log on to http://www.laballooning.com. For more information, contact media coordinator Leo Honeycutt, 225-278-3963, or Executive Director George Richard, 225-933-2027.
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