The Great Reno Balloon Race

2012 Copyright Will Hull, Windy Pinwheel

The Great Reno Balloon Race

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Orange Pinwheel great reno balloon raceThis year, we had the opportunity to attend one of our most beloved events of the year for each of us as children, here at Windy Pinwheel, the Great Reno Balloon Race. The details for each of us are slightly different, but they pretty much follow the same format. Our parents would wake us up before the sun would rise. For Will, his parents would wake him jarringly with a crude shout that to this day is still not understood, “Daylight in the swamp!” as the light switch barely made it to the turned on position.

Our parents would stop for hot chocolate and perhaps doughnuts on the way to see magic in September. Before dawn, while the night sky still lingers and at its darkest hour, Dawn Patrol would light up the early morning sky at the Great Reno Balloon Race. “Balloonists glow, twinkle and fly along with choreographed music across a darkened sky, leaving the crowd awe struck.” As each pull of the hot air balloon’s chain occurs, the fire would emit a glow of the slowly filling balloon rising to fly before dawn. It’s truly magical spectacle to witness at the Great Reno Balloon Race. It is something worth seeing.

The Great Reno Balloon Race - 2012 Copyright Will Hull, Windy Pinwheel great reno balloon race
2012 Copyright Will Hull, Windy Pinwheel

Later, around 7:00 AM, is the mass ascension. During this period, nearly one hundred balloons of all shapes fly into the air in a race to chase the first balloon to lift off that morning. A “race” to keep up with the leader. This year we saw a soccer ball, Smokey the Bear, a globe of the Earth, an 1800’s era stagecoach, and a Darth Vader head from Star Wars roaming the skies. Each year brings new and exciting shaped balloons as well as traditional multicolored round balloons. It truly is a site to be seen.

The Great Reno Balloon Race - 2012 Copyright Christine Hull, Windy Pinwheel great reno balloon race
2012 Copyright Christine Hull, Windy Pinwheel

For kids, The Children’s Cabinet and the Wilbur D. May Foundation provided tethered hot air balloon rides to all kids who had a voucher (we got one through our daycare facility, as the Children’s Cabinet often sends people to fill in as help while staff are out on leave). Our daughter had a great time riding the shark shaped balloon up into the sky. It will be an unforgettable experience for her.

Also, Ultimate Bouncers was onsite providing bounce houses for kids at a price of $5 for 15 minutes (and this was more than enough time for our kids after waiting in line for the hot air balloon ride earlier in the day). Ultimate Bouncers serves as far east as Elko and south as Minden/Gardnerville. Their bounce houses are sturdy and they have all kinds for boy and girl alike, if you’re looking for one for an upcoming special event in your family.

The Great Reno Balloon Race - 2012 Copyright Will Hull, Windy Pinwheel great reno balloon race
2012 Copyright Will Hull, Windy Pinwheel

If you are in Reno, the weekend after Labor Day, this event is a must see, no matter how much coffee it takes to rise out of bed.

Here are some tips:

  • If you happen to know someone who lives near Rancho San Rafael Park, it is a good idea to park there rather than at the park. There is a fee to park at the park if you would rather do less walking and pay; be sure to bring cash if you plan on this option.
  • If you have an RV, be sure to stage the RV on the side of the road (any one that you choose surrounding the park) a couple days prior to the event. Otherwise, you won’t get a good spot.
  • Be sure to dress warm. Unlike this year, the Great Reno Balloon Race is notorious for chilly weather worthy of a sweatshirt, windbreaker or jacket.
  • Bring your own coffee and hot chocolate to the park. Many of the vendors charge for these things and if you’re looking to save a dollar or two, this option can help.
  • Bring cash. If you’re looking for a souvenir, and there are many, even posters commemorating the event that year, cash is king.
  • Bring a fold up chair to sit on during the event or be prepared to stand for a couple hours.

For more information, visit The Great Reno Balloon Race website at www.renoballoon.com

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