Telluride Balloon Festival 2009
[click "Play" button to hear Eileen Burns' conversation with Balloonmeister, Peter Procopio]
by Eileen Burns
photo credit: Steve Cieciuch
Up, up and away: The 26th annual Telluride Balloon Festival flies this weekend, June 6th and 7th, with daily launches from Telluride's Town Park. Balloonmeister Peter Procopio and 15 of his colleagues will begin inflating their multi-colored hot air balloons at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Weather permitting, balloon pilots will launch around 7 a.m. and fly towards the Valley Floor, or wherever the wind may take them. “We’ve all had dreams of drifting along with the breeze,” stated Procopio. Although staying within the valley and keeping below 12,000 feet is challenging for the crew, Procopio admits that flying in Telluride is worth the effort. “The people are so inviting and the town is so beautiful, we look forward to coming back each year,” he explained.
A highlight of the festival is the main street Telluride Balloon Glo. To get a closer look at the beautiful designs of the participating balloons, you’ll want to gather with the locals on Colorado Avenue, Saturday evening, around 8:45 p.m. When the burners are lit, not only do the balloons light up the street, they also light up the beautiful historic buildings. It’s a sight to remember.
Ballooning depends on wind direction and speed. If there is not enough wind, spectators are encouraged to stick around and partake in a tethered flight. Although the balloons don't take off, they float about 100 to 150 feet above the ground and you still get that same wonderful feeling of drifting. Anyone wishing to “get a ride on a balloon” should see event director, Marilyn Branch (in fuchsia jacket at the basketball court) and volunteer as local crew…this is the only way you might get a ride.
Posters will be available for sale at the balloon field in Town Park on Saturday and Sunday morning. Coffee, hot chocolate and baked goods will also be available through a local youth group fundraising effort.
As they say in ballooning, here’s hoping for gentle breezes and soft landings!
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