LEWISTON —You cannot accuse Lewiston of being full of hot air.

The ReMax balloon gave tethered rides Sunday morning at the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston. Sun Journal Staff Photo

Visibility and low cloud cover scuttled another Great Falls Balloon Festival launch Sunday morning. A few balloons went up tethered, meaning they were anchored to a motor vehicle while airborne.

Alan Collins, a festival organizer, worked hard to keep the damp crowd entertained. Like a town crier, but with pancakes, Collins loudly bellowed advertisements for a fresh, hot breakfast to the crowd.  He also lead a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the Smokey Bear trailer, who was towed off to his next adventure Sunday.

When you think of this event, it’s Great Falls Balloon festival. A lot of people come because they want to see balloons. When they get the announcement that balloons aren’t going up, it brings everyone’s spirit down… However, there’s still so much going on today in the field,” said Collins. 

Collins said there was plenty at Simard Payne Park to stay for; Family Fun Day from 9 a.m. to noon, featuring face painting and balloon tying, and the return of Pups in the Air, the airborne disc catching canines.

While we have people here, we want to keep them here, entertain them, lift their spirits and really get them going and excited,” said C0llins. 


Balloon pilots were genuinely optimistic that they would be able to launch Sunday evening. Which would make it the only official launch of the 2019 festival. According to Michael Cempa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, the prospects for viable launch conditions, while still up in the air, are looking feasible.

 Cempa said the sky was going to clear out a bit more — a persistent air flow coming off of the ocean will veer southwest later this afternoon. Cempa said that while thunderstorms linger in the forecast, they shouldn’t start until 8 or 9 p.m. 

“There’s a lot better chance that there has been the last two nights,” said Cempa. Here’s hoping. 

This story will be updated.

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