Picture it… a crisp May morning, the hazy and majestic Rocky Mountains to the west, and the prairies of Colorado to the east, vibrating in excitement as the clusters of people starting to gather on the golf course in Erie. Still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, moms, dads and kids gathered, anticipating the thrill of the scenario about to unfold.
Early morning hot air balloon launches have long been a splendid mainstay of hot air balloon festivals nationwide, and this year’s Saturday morning launch in Erie as a feature of the 17th Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival was no exception. The crowd gathered, delighted to be at what some consider the biggest show on earth, well, in Boulder County anyway. It is no wonder Colorado is often called “Colorful Colorado.”
As the balloonists began unloading in preparation for the magnificent display, spectators rubbed the last sleepies from their eyes, awake now, and eager to catch every detail. Children gazed in wonder, getting as close as possible to the action, as teams carefully placed their gondolas and began to lay out their brilliantly colored wares.
Crews tested burners and inflator fans with short bursts of flame, and soon folds of fabric gave way to billowing replicas of the miniature trinkets found in many of our homes. Filling quickly with hot air produced by the dragon-like furnaces, the giant balloons rose until they were towering above the now lively spectators.
The fans were undaunted when the launch was delayed by unpredictable wind currents, and cheered when the first balloon, a brilliant citron and orange triangular-shaped masterpiece, set sail. But, as dazzling as the hot air balloons were, they were no match for the breathtaking beauty of not only our own Colorado state flag, but also the Star-Spangled Banner, gloriously waving gently in the breeze, capturing our American pride.
One by one, the rest of the balloonists took to the air, gently sailing over our heads towards the foothills, with the morning sun glowing through the thin veil of haze just in time to emphasize the striking patterns and color schemes. The performance was masterful, coming to a close only when the last crown had slipped behind the roof tops of nearby houses. Another year, another tradition. Yes, it’s fine living in Boulder County.
If you have ever witnessed a hot air balloon launch such as this, it would be wonderful to hear your story. As you enjoy the slideshow below, please take a moment to share.