MEADVILLE – A whimsical weekend of ballooning is about to get underway in Meadville. Thirty-one beautiful balloons will take to the air this weekend for the 25th annual Thurston Classic Hot Air Balloon rally. Their pilots come from as far away as South Dakota to participate in what has become a legendary event here.
The event was set to get an early start with the launch of a hydrogen gas balloon this evening, but threats of severe weather have postponed that launch until Friday.
“You not only have to look at the local weather, you have to look at the weather in the direction you’re flying as well, because the range on those is just amazing.”
Meadville attorney Ted Watts is a balloonist himself and helped organize the rally a quarter century ago. He says the gas balloon doesn’t require a flame and can travel incredible distances.
“That balloon will fly… it’s not subject to the fuel limitations that a hot air balloon is. So we have to look all around at the weather conditions to make sure it’s appropriate.”
The night glow kicks things off Thursday at 9:30 and the rally runs through Sunday. All events will take place at Allegheny College’s Roberston Field.
The rally is named after Meadville’s Samuel and Alic Thurston — 19th and 20th century father-and-son balloonists known for their daring feats of aeronautics.
And by the way, as if a normal teardrop shaped balloon, weren’t whimsical enough…
“I’m excited about a balloon that’s coming from the Scranton area. It’s called Peanut, and it’s shaped like an upside-down elephant,” says Thurston committee member Joyce Stevens.
More information is available at www.thurstonclassic.com.
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