Sometimes we have to leave to find our way home again. So why not in a balloon? “The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon,” we hear in the Fifth Dimension’s 1967 hit song, “Up, Up and Away.” I agree: They do make the world a nicer place, even just watching them. Hot air balloons infuse me with dreamy feelings of weightlessness and peace as they dot the skies with color.
You and your family can watch hot air balloons all weekend at Balloon Festival 2012, from July 6 through 8, organized by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. All scheduled events are weather-permitting. The Festival begins with a dozen evening launches scattered throughout Dutchess County at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 6. The launches are free and open to the public to watch each day from various points around the area, including the Walkway or the Poughkeepsie Galleria flagpole parking lot. If you want to take a hot air balloon ride yourself, the cost is $225 per person, arranged through Blue Sky Balloons at (845) 831-6917.
There are a number of sites participating in Balloon Festival 2012, but one that I’d like to highlight for families is the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. It will provide interactive family activities at the Pavilion on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Admission to the Museum costs $5 from 5 to 8:00 p.m. It is also offering a free drawing for a hot air balloon ride for two for Friday’s launch, which you can enter on the Museum website until the raffle is drawn at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 6. On Saturday, July 7, it is offering hot air balloon tethering rides for $2 before the 6 p.m. evening launch. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit www.mhcm.org.
At 6 a.m. on Saturday, July 7, all 17 balloons will dot the sky over the Hudson River, taking off from the docks of the Hudson River Rowing Association. Early birds who plan on attending should bring your camera to catch this remarkable sight. The Walkway over the Hudson will be open for anyone seeking a unique, elevated vantage point. The Walkway can be accessed at 87 Haviland Road in Highland or 61 Parker Avenue in Poughkeepsie.
Another round of 6 p.m. departures will take place on Saturday evening at various sites. On Sunday, July 8 at 6 a.m., a final mass launch at the Hudson River Rowing Association brings the Balloon Festival to a close.
The Poughkeepsie Galleria is Balloon Central. Complete, up-to-the-minute launch information will be available at the Festival booth, and representatives will be able to supply directions to launch sites, answer specific questions and more. The Poughkeepsie Galleria is located at 2001 South Road in Poughkeepsie. For all kinds of information about the Balloon Festival, including launch sites, call (845) 454-1700, extension 1000, or visit www.dcrcoc.org.