Great Texas Balloon Race moves forward minus public events

GTBR Announcing Race Format

LONVGIEW, Texas (KLTV) - We have liftoff, or will anyway. The Great Texas Balloon Race is a go for 2021. KLTV talks with the 2021 Chairman of the balloon race to find out specifics of how it will work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 Great Texas Balloon Race Chair Michelle Ford says the board has decided to bring in:

“About 60 hot air balloon pilots to Longview this summer,” Ford said.

So pilots will be able to compete and earn points despite the current situation.

“In light of COVID-19 and the pandemic we are all experiencing, we’re going to trim it down and it will be a competition only event,” Ford said.

Which means there will not be any large gatherings of any kind.

“No special shape inflations, no balloon glows, no musical entertainment,” Ford said.

Ford says there won’t be anything happening at Gregg County Regional Airport like in past years.

“The public safety was our major concern in making this decision and we still wanted to bring the joy of the hot air balloons to town,” Ford said.

Pilots will take off from many locations to fly to a target that’s disclosed the same morning as the flight. They discourage people showing up there, but:

“The competition events will be in town; over the city of Longview so you’ll have to look up,” Ford said.

Yes, you’ll be able to watch it from your yard, even wearing PJs in the morning, and:

“We are adding two afternoon flights. A Friday afternoon flight and a Saturday afternoon flight,” Ford said.

And with no gate or ticket sales there won’t be much money made so the board feels it’s:

“A gift to our community,” Ford said.

After 2020′s cancellation many local pilots had a sort of impromptu race over Longview last fall that was very well received by those who saw it. This year:

“Our County Judge Bill Stoudt and our mayor Andy Mack; everyone has been fully supportive and excited to bring the event to town this year,” Ford said.

So the burners will roar again over Longview.

“It’s our hope that this is something that the community can look forward to,” Ford said.

And look up to.

The Great Texas Balloon Race will be held June 18, 19 and 20 this summer. Again, there will be no events held at Gregg County Regional Airport.

We have liftoff, or will anyway. The Great Texas Balloon Race is a go for 2021.

This year’s Chair, Michelle Ford, announced this morning that all the races will take place over Longview. Residents only have to get up and look up. There won’t be any events held at the Gregg County Regional Airport, so there won’t be bands, vendors or a balloon glow to discourage gathering in a crowd.

The public safety was our major concern in making this decision and we still wanted to bring the joy of the hot air balloons to town.

The Great Texas Balloon Race will be held June 18, 19 and 20 this summer.

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