37th annual Huff ‘n Puff to take place this weekend

Approximately 30 hot air balloons will take to the sky, weather permitting, at four different times over the weekend.  Friday, Sept. 7 marks the beginning of the 37th annual Huff ‘n Puff Hot Air Balloon Rally.

The first of these launches will happen Friday evening. Two more launches will take place Saturday, one in the morning, and one in the evening. The final launch will be Sunday morning. All launches will take place on the east side of Shawnee Lake, at Tinman Circle, where the rally has been held for the last 15 years.

The rally was originally started by just a few balloonists who wanted to show off the sport and science of hot air ballooning.

Once it is dark, the balloons will descend for the night. They will stay anchored on the ground while still firing their burners. Tethered hot air balloon rides may be available at these times for $10 per ride.

“Any funds left over from the events, and proceeds from the sales on the field and from the tether rides will go to benefit the local Ronald McDonald House here in Topeka,” said Darrin Harrison, coordinator for the rally.

This year the rally will feature two special balloons. A Cheshire cat from the 1951 Walt Disney adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.” The other will be shaped as a Jack-N-The Box.

“If the weather is right and the wind is pushing them toward the lake, some of the balloons may do what is called a ‘splash and dash,” said Harrison.  This is when a pilot actually lands the basket of their balloon on the surface of the lake for a second before flooring the burner and rapidly ascending, stopping the basket from sinking into the lake.

“You can get some really neat pictures of the water dripping back into the lake,” Harrison said.

The rally has no admittance fee and is open to the public. Additional information and specific times for events can be found at the Huff ‘n Puff Hot Air Balloon Rally’s website, www.huff-n-puff.org.