Hot air balloon flights began Friday morning over the City of Longview and continued each morning through Sunday at the East Texas Regional Airport.
While driving to work, one could see crowds of people gathered at different locations enjoying the spectacular hot air balloons flying across the city. Many were snapping photos with their cell phones. At the Gregg County Airport where the annual Great Texas Balloon (GTBR) was taking place, children played with a variety of animal shaped balloons.
The gates opened promptly at 4:00pm each day with friendly volunteers happily waiting to welcome people and take tickets. To further sweeten the event, food vendors lined up their eateries on one side. The delicacies included foot-long corndogs, chicken plates, shrimp and funnel cakes just to name a few items. To top it off, there was ice cream and sodas to wash down the food. There is more.
Thoughtful and savvy vendors sold items to enable GTBR attendees stave off the sweltering east Texas heat. Besides the arts and crafts, umbrellas, hats, lawn chairs came in handy. Two of the most prominent items were the tiny fans and hats that kept attendees cool.
Moreover, face painters and tattoo artists displayed their arts on many willing and brave faces in addition to health experts who discussed heart rates while giving health tips.
GTBR’s appreciation to sponsors was second to none. The organizers set up a special tent for the sponsors. A dinner that consisted of delicious green beans, potatoes, bacon wrapped chicken breast or brisket, rolls several desserts was promptly served at 6:00pm. It is important to mention that volunteers rendered impeccable service. They could be seen walking around, helping attendees and making sure everything was going according to plan. But that is not all.
Dusk soon arrived and the long awaited balloon glow featured a breath-taking color display and excitement. Attendees were able to witness the inner workings of the hot air balloon glow. When the commentator yelled “burn,” the pilots pulled a lever and lit up balloons as the crowd roared and cheered heartily.
Also, live concerts from Reckless Heart and Aaron Watson extended entertainment into late night. The Great Texas Balloon Race, a world class event, attracting the best competitive pilots from across the world come to an end with attendees looking forward to next year for an encore performance.