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Fri, Feb 03, 2012

Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival Deemed A Big Success By Organizers

Event Survived High Winds Saturday, Had Great Flying Sunday Approximately 80 Miles North Of Las Vegas

The inaugural Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival Jan. 28-29 did more than bring color and a level of mystique to the city about 80 miles north of Las Vegas. Two dozen participants were involved in what was a first for Mesquite. “This is the most spectacular and majestic thing we ever done in Mesquite and we can’t wait to have it back next year -- and I’m not full of hot air when I tell you that,” CasaBlanca Resort Chief Operating Officer Randy Black roared before heading for the sky in the gondola of a balloon rising above the resort’s west parking lot.

From youngsters to senior citizens and everyone in between, the Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival lived up to its expectations even though it was hampered Saturday by winds that prevented the throng of pilots from flying. But following a disappointing Saturday morning that forced cancellation of the day’s activities, a colorful event called a “Night Glow” saw six balloons tethered in the parking lot as pilots ignited their aircraft in the dark, creating a fascinating show that could be seen for miles.

“This one will make everyone forget about what happened this morning,” said Mesquite Gaming Sporting Event Manager Christian Adderson, who was responsible for landing the event. “This is awesome.”

While Saturday was touchy, Sunday was picturesque as the skies opened up to the beauty of nearly two dozen balloons that launched from the parking lot of the CasaBlanca along with the driving range at the CasaBlanca Golf Course. The husband and wife team of Mona and Thayne Peterson brought their “Sun Dog” balloon to Mesquite for the event. It was fabulous,” Mrs. Peterson said. “The shots over the mesa this morning were incredible. I didn’t think the desert could be that pretty.”

Thayne, 46, added “I am a fixed-wing pilot and a glider pilot, too. The thing about ballooning is that you cannot do it all on your own. It takes a minimum of four people whereas when you’re in a glider, you’re on your own. Ballooning is a very social sport. The people are fun-fun. This is my therapy.”

Keith Evans, 43, of Santaquin, Utah, 30 miles south of Provo, came as a crew member. He is a student pilot who also has his own balloon “Diamond in the Rough." "It was a great event and everyone was able to get up and fly," said Evans, who works as a manufacturer’s representative in the automotive industry. “The glow was good because we were able to get a good crowd out and we were able to get the kids out so they could enjoy it too. The beauty of this is the spectators that come and enjoy the sport of ballooning with us. We do several rallies a year.”

FMI: www.hotairballoon.com/Mesquite-Balloon-Festival

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