Thousands gather Saturday before sunrise for balloon festival
It's up, up, and away in the North Country this weekend as the Adirondack Balloon Festival takes flight. YNN's Beth Croughan was up early for us to catch a glimpse of the dawn launch.
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QUEENSBURY, N.Y. -- It was before sunrise when members of Steve Bliss' balloon crew began preparing for the flight.
"My crew includes my wife, family and friends," explained Bliss, Norwich resident.
It was early enough that the long line of cars still needed headlights.
"Great event, a great community event," Bliss explained of the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
But, as the sky became lighter, the 70-foot-tall hot air balloon became fuller.
"It's my wife's fault. She bought me a hot air balloon ride, and I kind of liked it. And one thing led to another, and then we owned a balloon," said Bliss.
Bliss and his balloon have flown for the past 15 or so years as part of the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
"They're gentle giants, and it's kind of fun to be apart of that," he said of why he enjoys piloting.
"It all started 1973 on the ground of Adirondack Community College with 18 balloons. And this year we have 103 balloons," explained Mark Donahue, Adirondack Balloon Festival Organizer.
Donahue said the Adirondack Balloon Festival brings balloons from all over the country and the world and is expected to bring about 200,000 spectators.
"It's just so beautiful to see the different shapes, the different patterns of all the balloons," said Bliss' wife, Joyce.
"I'm looking at that, thinking I want to go," said Bliss as he watched balloons take off.
So he went, and logged another hour in the air.
"I have something in the neighborhood of 180 hours of flight," Bliss said.
The four-day festival continues through Sunday evening.