Balloon Rally returns to Macomb next month

Marc Ramirez, News editor

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There are many unique things that the city of Macomb has to offer that people sometimes overlook. A very popular and uncommon event that has been a tradition since 1987 is the Macomb Balloon Rally.

This year’s event will be hosted on Sept. 6-7 on Vince Grady Field located across from North Quad. Festivities will begin on that Friday where the Western Illinois University Jazz Studio Orchestra will perform from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. While the orchestra is still performing, there will be a balloon flight where the balloons will depart from Vince Grady.

Saturday, Sept. 7 the hot air balloons will fly back to Western around 6:45 a.m. to prepare and get ready for the rally festivities which will kick off with the balloon flight at 6 p.m. Live music will be provided by “Jera and the Absoluts” starting at 6 p.m. and concluding at 9 p.m.

A fun, family-friendly event that attracts the Macomb community is the Balloon Glow. A Balloon Glow is where balloon operators will light up the sky by pulling on their burners; however, the balloons never come off the ground.

The 2018 Balloon Rally was cancelled the morning of the event via the Macomb Balloon Rally Facebook page due to heavy rains in the Macomb area as the inclimate weather had lasted a couple of days.

“Because of pilots’ future rally commitments elsewhere, the Macomb event will not be rescheduled this year,” the Macomb Balloon Rally Facebook page read.

This year it can be assumed that all fans of the event are hoping for clear skies and good weather to enjoy the well-attended Macomb festivity. Pilots are scheduled to drive in from all across the Midwest region to participate in several competitive events and participate in this year’s balloon-glow. People who are interested in getting involved in the event have the opportunity to join the ground crew.

“The ground crew is essential and our pilots can’t fly without a good crew,” the Macomb Balloon Rally Facebook page read. “Join the fun by sending a message to us with your contact info.”

At the last rally, Western’s Cheerleading team had the chance to help set up and take down Peg Leg Pete, the feature balloon of the event.

“Helping set up the balloon was such a fun, new experience,” Allison Young said. “Not only is it cool to see this huge balloon unravel in front of your eyes, but you also get to have a little fun floating off the ground when things are all set up.”

The weekend’s events are free to the public and parking can be found in Q-Lot across from Vince Grady Field. Food vendors and entertainment will be on site. For more information, visit facebook.