Ascension Parish celebrates Hot Air Balloon Festival

Ascension Parish celebrates Hot Air Balloon Festival
Source: Kevin Frey/WAFB
Source: Kevin Frey/WAFB

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - More than 30 hot air balloons of every color and shape filled the horizon in Ascension Parish Friday night.

The community celebrated the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.

"Its just a fun atmosphere," said Ellis Calvert. "That's what ballooning is all about - fun."

An Alabama resident, Calvert has been a balloon enthusiast for more than two decades and has piloted balloons at festivals for several years.

"When I started flying balloons, I was scared of heights. But when you're in the balloon, you're just floating with the wind," Calvert said.

Balloons first started to take shape around 6 p.m. Some of the balloons in the shape of characters like Tweety Bird and Sylvester the Cat. Others sported well-known brands, like Coca-Cola.

In addition to the balloons, vendors sold a variety of food, including alligator on a stick. Amusement rides also dotted the fair grounds.

For many, Friday was their first visit to the festival.

"It's exciting to see it up close because I always point it out the window to my kids, but for them to actually see it - I think it was exciting for them," said Czaneta Wilson.

"Its beautiful," said Kim Ray. "It's a lovely evening with gorgeous balloons - can't wait to see the rest of them."

As the sun set, a new form of light brightened the night sky. The pilots set their balloons aglow, turning on the burners to produce flames. The illuminations shining on the faces of the young and young at heart.

"It's a great time to come out and spend time with family and friends," Ray said.

The festival continues Saturday. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m

More information can be found at the festival's website.

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