Plenty of Hot Air at the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic 

Wednesday, Aug. 31-Sunday, Sept. 4 at Ann Morrison Park

Starting this week, there will be an increase of hot air in Boise. And it has nothing to do with the weather or politics. This year the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic will celebrate its 20th anniversary with festivities beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 31, and running through Sunday, Sept. 4. Since 1991, Boise has been treated to the presence of colorful hot-air balloons shaped like Mickey Mouse or a giant Coca Cola bottle floating overhead.

Local elementary and junior high students will learn about topics including weather, decision-making and hot-air ballooning in Ann Morrison Park on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Friday, Sept. 2, is VIP day, and each festival sponsor will be honored for making the Balloon Classic possible, with 40 balloons expected to launch Friday morning. Friday night is the Night Glow event, which will offer live music, food vendors and demonstrations. Twelve balloons will be lit up at 8:15 p.m. like enormous lanterns for spectators to gawk at.

On Saturday, Sept. 3, pilots will participate in a navigational challenge, competing for the Governor's Cup for Aviation Excellence. Saturday will also feature the awesomely gross-sounding Outhouse Balloon Bowling, in which pilots attempt to knock down Porta Potties in the park. Sunday, Sept. 4, is the final day of the event and will culminate with the last launch at 7:15 a.m.

Here are a few tips for spectators who plan on attending: dress in layers, bring a chair because the grass may still be wet and be sure to take a camera. But leave the dogs and pets at home, they can hamper the operations of the crews, and the burners used for inflation are high pitched and can damage their hearing.

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