Organizers Prepare for Balloon Launch

The countdown is on. The Great Texas Balloon Race kicks off Friday morning and runs through Sunday.

Arts and craft vendors set up for the huge crowds Thursday. While they sweated in the sun, laying out the entertainment infrastructure, balloon pilots started signing up for the anticipated event.

Many of the 69 navigators are return competitors. Bill Spreadbury, a balloon pilot from Plano, says he likes the event for its "real, down home southern Texas style. They lay it out for us in a big way."

Organizers want to extend more hospitality by guiding the flurry of traffic outside East Texas Regional Airport. From 6-8 p.m., Highway 349 will be one way, helping those coming from 322. Then, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m...traffic will be heading back west in both lanes to 322.

Organizers recommend getting there early.