The Great Balloon Race takes place this morning as well (weather permitting). Some years the runners get a special treat if the hot air balloons in the Great Balloon Race float over the course. The hare balloon (last year’s winning balloon) takes off first, course determined by the whim of Mother Nature, and tries to land in an open field or other area with plenty of room for balloons to maneuver and spectators to gather. Then the other balloons take off and head towards the target, which has now been marked with a big “X”. They don’t try to land on it, though. One of the balloonists in the basket tosses a bag filled with Bluegrass seed when they near the target and judges scramble to mark and measure. The closest bag to the target wins and that team gets to be the hare balloon next year. This all sounds pretty calm until you add on the hundreds of people in cars chasing the balloons.
In 2007 the wind was blowing just right to blow the balloons into an area of town I was very familiar with, so I pulled Jack out of bed, grabbed a to-go cup of coffee, and off we went. The secret is following the hare balloon as closely as possible, using back roads so you don’t get caught in traffic. Jack was so excited he could hardly stand it when the hare balloon nearly landed on our car. Really. I was stopped at a light, cars in front of me and behind me, and the balloon passed a few feet over our car and landed on the median next to us. Then they dragged it to the field a few yards away that they’d been aiming for. I did wonder what my insurance agent would have said if I’d had to report and crumpled car roof from a hot air balloon landing.
UPDATE: The balloon race has been cancelled due to inclement weather and will NOT be rescheduled. BUMMER!
Are you running the race this year? Have you run this race or a similar one in the past? Are you an insurance agent who’s paid a hot air balloon race related claim? Chime in and share!