Great Texas Balloon Race Canceled Because Of Weather - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/6/07-Longview

Great Texas Balloon Race Canceled Because Of Weather

All this rain has now put a damper on an almost 30 year East Texas tradition. A major announcement Friday from organizers of the Great Texas Balloon Race in Longview. 

"The Great Texas Balloon Race for 2007 has been canceled," announces chairperson Tammy Skinner.

With those words, it was official. This year's balloon race is a no-go and that means you won't be seeing any of hot-air balloons floating over Longview or the ever-popular balloon glow.

"The city looks forward to it, everyone loves everything about the balloon race," Skinner says.

It was a tough decision to make, but officials, say it was a necessary one.

"As county judge, you cannot gamble with safety," says Bill Stoudt, Gregg County Judge.

And safety is what it came down to. County officials say there are dozens of cables that run underneath the East Texas Regional Airport, but they're only buried about 18 inches under the now-soggy ground. 

"The concern was if any one of those wires was ruptured or penetrated it could cause some serious problems with lighting at the airport, power of tower for brief period of time until emergency power kicked on," Stoudt says.

Basically, crews out at the airport, were just not going to be able to use the heavy-duty equipment necessary for the event. 

"There just was not a place that was large enough for our event so we decided to save the integrity of our race, it is a first-class event and rather than challenge that event we decided to cancel it for this year," says Skinner.

It's a major announcement that affects major tourism dollars for Longview and Gregg County, but organizers say they're going to take this time to plan an even bigger and better balloon race for next year.

And organizers say they cannot simply postpone the event because the balloon pilots already have other events scheduled for the summer.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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