`So bummed' at balloon rainout

Weather interferes with festival events

May 18, 2007|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,special to the sun

The Preakness Balloon Fest at Turf Valley Resort barely lifted off this week.

Wednesday night's balloon glow was canceled because of rain and wind. Yesterday morning's balloon launch went on as scheduled, but because of wind conditions the balloons were inflated but never took off.

The Balloon Fest, an official Preakness event that was part of the celebration leading up to tomorrow's horse race, was scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m., with hot-air balloons available for short tethered rides or walk-throughs. It would culminate at dusk with the balloons being gently lighted from within.

"People were coming to this from all over," said Regina Ford, director of marketing for Turf Valley Resort. "We've been getting calls from Frederick, New Market, Mount Airy. This was not just a Howard County event."

The balloon festival, a first for Howard County, was free and open to the public.

The decision to call off Wednesday's event was made about 1 p.m., Ford said. "We would have been setting up there right now," she said late Wednesday afternoon, as rain lashed from a dark sky. "We had to make that decision. Had we not, we would have had a tent out there, blowing in the wind, with the poles acting like lightning rods."

Though she was disappointed, Ford said she would like Turf Valley to host the event again next year.

"We're still enthusiastic about it," she said. Maybe next year, more activities that are not so weather-dependent could be added, she said.

"It's so disappointing not to be able to do it," Ford said about Wednesday night's event. "Everybody is so bummed."

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