Cross your fingers. If all goes as planned, dozens of hot air balloons will take off from McDougal Field this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. It’s time for the 16th Annual Lover’s Aloft Balloon Festival.
Over the past 16 years the festival has become part of Lovelock’s identity. It’s the highlight of Valentine’s Day weekend.
Thursday morning, the pilots will visit Lovelock and Imlay Elementary School. They’ll also stop by the hospital and nursing home. People of all ages find hot air balloons mesmerizing. And the logistics of ballooning could fill several lesson plan books. And coloring books.
A typical balloon system - envelope, gondola, fuel tanks, with 30 to 40 gallons of fuel - weighs about 500 pounds when deflated on the ground. In the air, the complete system, including the air inside the envelope weighs over two tons.
However, on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., people will launch tinier balloons from the courthouse steps, each carrying a message skyward. It’s the third annual Lights of Love, sponsored by Temptations Restaurant.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, if it’s not too windy, hot air balloons will once again fly over Pershing County. The launch follows the National Anthem at 7 a.m. Organizer and pilot Pat Irwin welcomes anyone who wants to help the crew. The helpers should show up at McDougal softball fields at 6 a.m.
Experts agree that hot air ballooning is a team sport. That’s why the balloon festival committee hosts the Breakfast and Awards Reception for the crew, sponsors and pilots. It takes place at the community center on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. The public can buy tickets at the door for $10.