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.”
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.
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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.
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.
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