Pandemic Prompts Changes for 2020 Balloons Aloft

by Josh Colletta

As reported earlier, Angola Balloons Aloft will take place this year, but much of the surrounding festivities have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Herald Republican and WLKI, director Tim Crooks says there won’t be any activities at Angola High School during the hot air balloon festival, including the kids’ fun zone, food court, educational displays, characters, tractor displays, vendors, helicopter rides, and Meet the Fleet.

Crooks told the media, “Many will ask why we did this. We felt we could not provide the proper items needed to keep our visitors safe, such as cleaning the restrooms after each use, water for hand washing, safe social distancing and proper disposal of trash. We would also need to sanitize all of the fun zone activities.”

Still, the annual event will go on for the 11th year, and Crooks says that while many details are still being worked out, the organizers wanted to put on an event that would lift the community’s spirits and keep everyone safe.

It’s a slightly smaller field in the balloon competition this year, as around 35 balloons usually take part, but there will only be 17 competition and 3 special shape balloons participating.

They’ll take to the skies all weekend long, starting the evening of Friday, July 10th, with illumination tentatively scheduled for 9:15 PM. The public will be welcome to watch from their cars rather than in person. Crooks says some of the balloons may conduct their night glow at another location to accommodate viewers. The balloons will fly all day Saturday, July 11th, and on the morning of Sunday the 12th, as usual.

Event T-shirts will go on sale in mid-June. The shirts list all of the Balloons Aloft sponsors, and proceeds will go to the Steuben County Community Foundation, which will then distribute the money to local non-profit organizations.

Crooks asks everyone to be patient as the 2020 Angola Balloons Aloft event is still a work in progress. He added that the best way to stay up-to-date is on the event’s Facebook page.

One other change to note: the classic car cruise, which is usually held at the high school, will now drive through Steuben County on Saturday, July 11th, with stops at various sites across the area so that people can view the vehicles from a safe distance.

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