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  • 30 Sep 2014

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FLYIN' HIGH

Tigard's Festival of Balloons celebrates anniversary with a hot date


by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTOS - Firing up the hot air balloons can be an intense thing at the Tigard Festival of Balloons, especially at night (top), while colorful balloons dot the landscape at Cook Park (above). For info: tigardballoon.org.You know summer has arrived in the Portland area when you gaze at the skies and see a colorful display of hot-air balloons floating above Tigard.

Cook Park is the scene of the Festival of Balloons, running June 20 through June 22. It’s the 30th anniversary of the event, which also features live music, a carnival, a Festival

of Cars (Sunday only) and enough fun to keep your family entertained for hours.

Cindy Padilla, festival executive director, has been busy working behind the scenes to get this year’s festival up and running. She says it’s a great family-friendly event.

“We start off with the hot-air balloons in the morning,” Padilla says. Morning balloon launches are each day, from 5:45 a.m. to 6:15 a.m., weather permitting.

“One of our challenges is if our winds are going north, we won’t fly, because there are no landing zones,” Padilla says.

Speaking of the weather, as it relates to the Festival of Balloons, Padilla says, “It’s make it or break it, 100 percent.”

More than 15,000 spectators arrive at Cook Park early each morning to watch the hot-air balloons.

There will be about 22 hot-air balloons at this year’s event. For the nocturnal festival visitor, Walmart will present the Night Glow on Friday and Saturday. The Night Glow is a sight to see, according to Padilla, and it includes live music.

“If you’re not a morning person, come to the Night Glow,” Padilla says. “You can get very up close and personal with these balloons — they are just magnificent. As the night settles in, propane flames are the ones that light up throughout the evening.”

The festival isn’t just about balloons. There’ll be the Twilight Run at Cook Park, a youth regional soccer tournament, live music, a beer garden, a Kid’s Fun Zone and a Rib and Blueberry Pie Eating Contest. “We have a full carnival for all ages,” Padilla says.

Admission to the festival is $5 (advance online) or $7 at the gate. The tickets are a 3-day pass. Youngsters 6 and under can attend free. You can find a full list of festival entertainers, as well as an event schedule, at www.tigardballoon.org. Visit the “Festival of Balloons” page on Facebook for more information.