Hot air balloons take to the Cortez sky this weekend

Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 11:37 AM
The first balloon launches Friday from Parque de Vida during the 2017 Cortez Rendezvous Hot Air Balloon Rally.

Twenty colorful balloons will fly above Cortez on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the annual Cortez Rendezvous Hot Air Balloon Rally.

The first balloons will take off from Parque de Vida at about 6:30 a.m. each day, piloted by balloonists from all over the Four Corners. Everyone is welcome to watch the launch, balloon crew chief Cookie See said, but the balloons can also be seen floating around the Cortez area throughout the morning. On Friday, Journal reporters will follow the balloons and take pictures from the ground and the air, but readers can share their own balloon photographs on the Journal’s Facebook page. Last year, readers submitted about 100 photos.

See, who has organized the rally for about 13 years, said all the pilots involved are experienced balloon enthusiasts, most of whom are familiar with the Cortez area. She emphasized that the balloon launch is open to people of all ages, and there is no charge.

“All the pilots would love people to go up and look at their pretty balloons,” she said.

Although the launch is tentatively scheduled for the same time each day, See said it all depends on the weather. She and another experienced pilot will be monitoring the forecast all weekend.

“If I don’t feel that the weather’s good, I don’t let the balloons go up,” she said.

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms for all three days, mostly in the afternoon.

The Journal will be posting live updates on the balloon rally all morning on Friday. Readers can add to the story all weekend by posting photos to the Facebook page and including the photographer’s name and the place and time the photo was taken.