High winds ground balloons, festival goes on; STGnews videocast, photo gallery

MESQUITE, Nevada – The annual Mesquite Balloon Festival got off to a turbulent start Saturday morning as high upward winds led to the cancellation of morning flights for nearly 45 balloon pilots and their crews.

“The safety of the pilots and spectators are the #1 priority of the festival,” a press release stated, “and the conditions did not dictate a safe launch for all parties involved.”

Colorful hot air balloons on display at the Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival, Mesquite, Nevada, Jan. 24, 2015 | Photo by Ralph Reina, St. George News
Colorful hot air balloons on display at the Mesquite Balloon Festival, Mesquite, Nevada, Jan. 24, 2015 | Photo by Ralph Reina, St. George News

The balloon launch was cancelled due to wind conditions at higher elevations, which made flying unsafe, according to the release.

St. George balloon pilot Rocky Neal said there were significant winds, and even higher winds were forecast to kick up as the day progressed. He added those are not the conditions in which to do crazy stuff or be pushing the envelope.

Despite the failure to launch, several balloons were tethered and filled, which enabled the large crowd of spectators to get up close and personal with the vibrantly colored giants. Some pilots even allowed young children to stand inside the baskets.


To watch videocast, click play arrow  play-arrow  in center of image at top of story


The rest of the scheduled activities for the Mesquite Balloon Festival, including Saturday evening’s balloon glow and Sunday morning’s launch, will continue as normal, weather permitting, according to the press release.

Crews get ready to fill a hot air balloon at the Mesquite Balloon Festival, Mesquite, Nevada, Jan. 24, 2015 | Photo by Ralph Reina, St. George News
Crews get ready to fill a hot air balloon at the Mesquite Balloon Festival, Mesquite, Nevada, Jan. 24, 2015 | Photo by Ralph Reina, St. George News

Christian Adderson, corporate sales manager for Mesquite Gaming and CasaBlanca Resort, said the festival, now in its fourth year, started out with only 18 balloons and has grown to include more than 40.

The festival brings in a large crowd of pilots, crews and spectators, which helps boost the Mesquite economy as well as providing a fun, family friendly activity for community members and visitors.

Every room at the CasaBlanca Resort was booked for this year’s festival, Adderson said.

Pilots from many of the Western states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming – and from as far away as Alberta, Canada, made the trip to Mesquite to participate in the fourth installment of the festival.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Resources

  • See full event schedule here

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Karlana January 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Do we know if the balloons may possibly be grounded tomorrow morning?

    • Hollie Reina Hollie Reina January 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      The event is scheduled to go tomorrow (Sunday) morning, weather permitting. Here is a link to the schedule and keep in mind they are one hour behind Utah. http://www.casablancaresort.com/…/MesquiteBalloonFestiv…

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