Crowds enjoy Great Texas Balloon Race despite minor problems

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Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 1:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It’s over. The pilots have packed up their balloons and headed home. And this year’s Great Texas Balloon Race Chairman says there were a few problems with this year’s race, but they were all pretty minor.

It was the first time the Great Texas Balloon Race was held in the Longview City Limits in about three decades, but GTBR Chair Michelle Ford says the set up and tear down at the Longview Convention Complex was easier than at Regional Airport. And some problems were addressed over the weekend.

“I think we had a little bit of an issue with traffic at the end of the event. And we readjusted for Saturday night and when I turned around Saturday night everybody was gone in just a brief amount of time,” Ford said.

A quick storm Saturday night put a damper on the balloon glow and the pilots canceled due to wind.

“It was just going to be too dangerous for our pilots and crew to bring the glow out that night,” Ford said.

But everything was a go on Friday night as balloons lit up the night. Although the balloons were supposed to pulse to the music like in 2019, but there was a problem.

“So, it was our hope that we could do that. We had an issue. I think it was with radios or how they communicate with the pilots, and so we’ll work on getting that corrected and it will be something that the crowd can look forward to in 2023,” Ford said.

The MC took control, and most didn’t notice since the balloons did indeed glow. Then on Saturday night:

“Little Texas came on, and of course the finale was with the Kilgore Rangerettes. The world-famous Kilgore Rangerettes, and we just couldn’t be more pleased with the event,” Ford said.

It wasn’t really a problem but another thing they noticed was that there was a lot of extra room where the vendors were set up.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to have some more food vendors, some additional arts and crafts and commercial vendors and the kids land maybe could grow,” Ford said.

Well, they had to get one under their belt at the complex.

“This is year one and a huge change in our event,” Ford said.

But the feedback Michelle has received has been nearly all positive and it looks like a complex launch for next year as well.

Ford also says many Longview hotels and restaurants benefited from the influx of pilots, crew and visitors coming into town for the Great Texas Balloon Race.

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