Balloon Stampede celebrates 40 years

Walla Walla, a city within the US state of Washington, was recently filled with colour with the return of its annual hot air balloon festival.

The event, which has now been running for 40 years, began back in 1974 with balloons launching from Howard-Tietan Park.

This year, the event has been funded and supported by Gesa Credit Union, who stepped in with much needed financial support when the show’s future was looking bleak.

Running from the 9th to 10th May, there were plenty of arts and crafts stalls, as well as other activities, that ran alongside the planned hot air balloon events, which were designed for the enjoyment of the whole family.

High winds meant that the decision was taken by event organisers to keep the hot air balloons tethered close to the ground. It was reported on the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede Facebook page that this was because they were experiencing “25mph winds 800’ above the surface”.

However, this in no way dampened the mood of attendees, as the pilots utilised the weather and offered free hitched balloon rides to the spectators.

The 10th of May, the stampedes’ last scheduled day, began at dusk, which added to the impact of the shows ‘night glow’. The display featured approximately 30 balloons, which were filled with helium gas and lit up to give a spectacular show. Taking the cooler weather into account, people came wrapped up against the cold, armed with chairs and picnic blankets to provide a more comfortable viewing.

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