Festival brings balloon races and bird displays to Nevada

Dozens of balloons soared over the Virgin Valley in Nevada last weekend as part of the Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival, with pilots from Arizona, California, Canada, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Wyoming attending the event.

Balloon meister Gayle McCoy kicked off proceedings by checking insurance and balloon licences. He has attended and worked at this event since 2011, and been a pilot since 2006. Following the checks, he then launched the first helium balloon to monitor the levels of wind and general weather patterns.

Weather for the event was promisingly mild and with only a tiny breeze.

The Mesquite fire department helped McCoy’s ballooning team get off the ground by holding the ropes as his wife used a large fan to fill the balloon with air.

A parrot-focussed bird display called ‘Squawk! The Show’ followed as comedy entertainment after the balloon display, taking place in a showroom at the CasaBlanca Resort.

A number of other balloon events took place over the course of the weekend – including a race in which 20 hot air balloons competed for the number one spot.

Saturday’s list of events included a nightglow, a ‘Special Family Variety Show of Shows’, champagne tasting at the Casablanca Resort Skydome Lounge and a tribute to Neil Diamond starring Rob Garrett and the KOD band.

Sunday’s schedule promised another early morning balloon set-up, pilots’ meeting and finally, a special launch.

The event proved popular, with many snapshots taken by excited onlookers.

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