QUEENSBURY - The 37th annual Adirondack Balloon Festival will return to Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury on Thursday Sept. 24 and events will run all weekend.
The event, normally held the third weekend in September, has been pushed back a week to the end of the month because of the lateness of this year's Labor Day holiday weekend.
The action will start at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies at Crandall Park, including live music by the Stony Creek Band. Immediately following the ceremonies will be the premiere balloon launch, including about 12 - 15 balloons.
Each of the festival's five other flights at the airport will take place on Friday evening, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning and afternoon.
Numerous activities will accompany the launches on Saturday and Sunday including a Balloon Art Show, concessions to benefit local charitable groups, military aircraft on display, kite sales and flying, a rock climbing wall for kids and both Protestant and Catholic worship services Sunday morning.
The festival has added an additional flight of 15-20 balloons on Sunday afternoon with the possible opportunity for spectators to take a ride in one of these balloons.
New balloons to the festival are Wally the Clown Fish based in Wausau, Wisconsin and Piko, a huge smiling face from St. Jean, Quebec.
Wally will be making his first-ever trip to the East Coast. The giant orange-and-white clown fish stands 90 feet high and is 110 feet long. He weighs in at a hefty 950 pounds.
He is the only balloon in the world that includes movable fins operated by the pilot.
"This system makes Wally appear to be swimming while being flown in the sky," said pilot Steve Woller.
An estimated 100,000 visitors will attend the four day, six flight event. All activities are free of charge and held weather permitting. Balloons will not launch in rain or strong wind.
"Safety is number one," said Walter Grishkot, the festival's founder and organizer.
The balloon festival will not host a Moonglow in Lake George this year because of safety concerns, according to Grishkot.
Wally and Piko are among a half-dozen guests coming to the festival this year which has upwards of 90 balloons. As always, people are urged to bring cameras and take part in the official Adirondack Balloon Festival photo contest.
The Adirondack Balloon festival is the largest and oldest balloon event of its kind on the East Coast. Pilots come to upstate New York from all over the U.S., Canada and Japan for the event.
For for information on the Adirondack Balloon Festival, visit www.adirondackballoonfest.org.