Great Forest Park Balloon Race

Great Forest Park Balloon Race
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is an annual hot air balloon festival that takes place in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. With an attendance of over 150,000, it is the most well-attended single-day hot air balloon race in the United States.

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race was founded by renowned balloonists John O’Toole and Nikki Caplan. The first race was held in December 1973. It featured 6 balloons and attracted about 20 spectators. Four years later, four enthusiastic, newly certified balloonists took over the event. Dan Schettler, Ted Staley, John Schaumburg and John Marlow formed the Mississippi River Balloon Transit Company and continue to coordinate the festival today.

Over the years, the Great Forest Park Balloon Race has grown to become one of the biggest hot air balloon events in the United States. It is a single-day festival that takes place in Forest Park located in the western part of St. Louis. The festival features 70 world-class hot air balloon pilots who compete in an exciting race, attracting more than 150,000 spectators from all over Missouri and out of state.

The hot air balloon race is the central event of the festival. First, the lead balloon (the “hare”) takes off from the Central Fields in Forest Park. 15 minutes later, the participants (the “hounds”) launch in pursuit. The balloon that drops a birdseed bag closest to the “hare” balloon is declared the winner of the race. Due to its urban location, the race is considered particularly challenging and prestigious.

Alongside the race, the program of the festival features plenty of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. They include the spectacular Balloon Glow followed by a fireworks display on the eve of the festival, the Entertainment Stage featuring a variety of local talent, the Children’s Entertainment Area with inflatable castles, games, rides and other activities for kids, skydiving demonstrations, contests and competitions, a picnic area, food and drink vendors, and more.

Great Forest Park Balloon Race

Photo: skydawgz13




Related Articles