HAPPENING TODAY: 15th Annual Hot Air Balloon Glow set for Friday evening
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - After having to postpone, and move locations because of the pandemic, the annual Hot Air Balloon Glow presented by Ozark Chevrolet returns to its original location Friday evening at Finley River Park in Ozark, Mo.
The Balloon Glow is part of the two-day Sertoma Duck Race Festival, with several activities taking place, including live music in an entertainment area, food and drink booths, small business and craft vendor booths, and a kids’ zone with various carnival-type rides for families to enjoy.
The 15th Annual Hot Air Balloon Glow supports the Children’s Smile Center’s efforts to help offset the cost to run dental clinics for low-income children ages one to 19 and pregnant women covered by Missouri Medicaid; in six-county areas. The Balloon Glow news release explained this is the largest single fundraising event of the year for Children’s Smile Center and provides family enjoyment for thousands and thousands of families and individuals.
What to expect:
With so many people expected to attend the 2021 balloon glow, Barger said they are encouraging people to make their own decision on what they feel most comfortable with, when in large gatherings.
“We do want to emphasize it is an outdoor event,” explained Barger. “We know that this area has worked hard to stay safe on personal levels if you’re in any, in any way uncomfortable about large crowds and don’t want to participate in that. Those are individual decisions which we certainly respect.”
To plan such a huge event, Barger said it takes nearly six months. He said it’s all worth it when he sees the smiles on kids’ faces and hears the stories from balloon pilots and their adventures.
Joel Sturdevant, Remax Balloon Pilot, agreed.
“It’s fun to see everybody’s different reactions to the balloons,” explained, Sturdevant. “Most of the people have never seen a hot air balloon up close before, And those who’ve seen a hot air balloon before have only seen it from a distance. So that gives them an opportunity to see it up close and really get an idea for how tall it is.”
Sturdevant will have one of the seven hot air balloons this year. He’s been a balloon pilot for 40 years and is a long-time balloon glow participant. He says he loves being up in the air, but he also enjoys the moments and experiences that come with being a part of the annual glow.
“It never gets old, and it’s a unique experience, “ said Sturdevant. “It’s also a great cause, and many people are just looking for something fun to do outdoors so people don’t feel like they’re being cooped up. It just puts a positive spin on the world today.”
Barger explained that the balloons will be tethered to the ground the entire time so attendees can enjoy a 60 to 90-minute glow experience pending weather and wind speeds.
“We want everyone to know that the event is extremely sensitive to weather and wind conditions,” Barger explained in a news release.” The unpredictability of Ozark’s weather means there is always a chance the event could not be held. Please keep informed through our Facebook page.”
Large Crowds Affect Traffic, Parking:
Event admission is FREE, however, the Sertoma Duck Race Festival, which the balloon glow is a part of, has a $5 parking fee. There is parking offered at the High School and Junior High School with a shuttle!
The Festival opens and the parking begins at 5:00 p.m. Due to the number of attendees, Barger stated in a news release, that people attending the Balloon Glow need to plan to arrive well before the hot-air balloons begin to inflate, which should be in the vicinity of 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. “4C Sertoma works well with the Ozark Police Department, as well as volunteer groups handling the parking areas, to provide an orderly as possible way to the park,” Barger stated. “But make no mistake about it, the traffic and parking are opportunities for patience and planning,” he added.
Law enforcement has estimated the crowd in recent years at the 10,000+ level. “Getting that many people and vehicles all coming to one location at the same time is a challenge; once you arrive in the park, take the chance to appreciate the setting of the park, the trees, the river, the bridge and the Ozark Mill.”
Finley River Park in downtown Ozark, 891-961 N Riverside Rd, Ozark, MO 65721
Grounds open at 5:00 p.m.
GLOW starts at dusk (approx. 8 to 9 p.m.)
Sertoma Duck Race Festival and Balloon Glow admission is FREE
The Sertoma Duck Race Festival does have costs associated with their event, including a $5 parking fee.
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