Hot-air balloon fest floats back to Park City this fall
Autumn Aloft, a Park City hot-air balloon festival that has not occurred since the mid-1990s, will float back into the city in September.
The organizers on Wednesday indicated the event is scheduled on Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 with a community outreach day set on Sept. 19.
According to a release, the main launch of balloons will occur between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 20 and Sept. 21, a Saturday and Sunday. The main launches are scheduled at the North 40 fields, which are located off S.R. 248 close to the Park City School District campus. The release indicates Autumn Aloft will involve 15 invited balloonists.
On Sept. 20, an event called the Historic Park City Balloon Glow is scheduled from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The balloon glow, which will involve three balloons, is planned to occur on and close to Swede Alley. The passenger baskets will be secured to the ground.
"Autumn is such a spectacular time in Park City. Park City begins to slow down just a bit, and the fall foliage is spectacular. Longtime Park City residents remember the original Autumn Aloft fondly and often question why Park City does not have a balloon festival. We felt it was time to bring back Autumn Aloft for the new generation of Park City residents and visitors," Monty Coates, the event organizer, said in a prepared statement.
Autumn Aloft last occurred in 1993 or 1994, the organizers of this year’s event said.
Meisha Lawson, a spokesperson for Autumn Aloft, said the organizers hope to attract 2,500 spectators. They want to make Autumn Aloft an annual event, she said.
The organizers are considering several locations for the landing zone, Lawson said. She declined to identify them. She said Autumn Aloft representatives have spoken with people who live in the neighborhood adjacent to the launch zone.
City Hall is reviewing an application for the permit needed to hold the event. Jenny Diersen, the special events coordinator for the municipal government, said landing zones inside and outside the Park City limits are under consideration. Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council are tentatively scheduled to address the application at a meeting on Aug. 7. A public hearing would be held prior to a vote. City Hall will release more logistical details the week of the meeting.
Gene Moser, a longtime Parkite who was one of the founders of earlier Autumn Aloft, said this week he was contacted about this year’s event but does not plan to be involved with the organizing.
Moser recalled the earlier Autumn Aloft becoming popular enough that it became burdensome on the Park City Police Department and others. Crowds and parking issues were contributing factors to the end of Autumn Aloft in the 1990s, he said.
"It was just a very good event. It was well-received," Moser said. "It just made people feel good to see the balloons."
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.