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Hot air balloons will fill the skies over Prosser

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With shrieks and screams of delight, Washington Elementary School students in Sunnyside watched as the Tony the Tiger hot air balloon rose off of the ground Thursday morning. With six hot air balloons in their fleet, Kellogg's tours the country and makes about 50 school appearances a year. With a little help from the local Wal-Mart store, Washington school students were lucky enough to get an appearance and get their pictures taken in front of the balloon.

PROSSER - This weekend the skies above the Lower Yakima Valley will be alive with color, as Prosser hosts its 15th annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally.

This year 25 to 30 balloonists from across the Northwest are expected to take part in the annual hot air balloon rally.

Over the weekend, people will have chance to get up close and personal with the balloons, as pilots and their crews prepare for dawn lift-offs both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26. The balloons lift off, weather permitting, from the Prosser Airport on Nunn Road in Prosser.

However, for those who want to see the balloons, but don't want to brave the brisk early morning temperatures, there is a night glow scheduled to take place Saturday evening at dusk at Art Fiker Stadium.

The night glow offers spectators a chance to see the balloons up close, which are anchored to the ground for the event. As the balloons become upright, pilots continue to run the balloon's engines, which causes the balloon to appear to glow against the night sky.

Kelly Carlson, balloon rally chairman, said the weekend-long event brings the community together, as well as families.

"It's just good, clean fun," Carlson said.

She added that one of the things that helps make the balloon rally special, is that it isn't something that a person sees once and never comes back to see again.

"You come back and see them over and over again," Carlson said. "It never gets boring."

Besides serving as a launching pad for the different balloons, the airport will also serve as the balloon rally headquarters for the weekend. Carlson said Saturday morning the local chapter of PEO will be serving a continental breakfast for anyone who comes to see the balloons launch. There will also be balloon rally memorabilia for sale at the airport Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as the night glow.

For those who are looking for a more substantial meal on Saturday, the Prosser High School Honor Society will be hosting a country breakfast at the Riverview Elementary School cafeteria. Sunday morning, there will be an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the Prosser Senior Center.

Carlson added that during the night glow the Harris family will be selling night glow necklaces to benefit the SIDS Foundation. Also during the night glow, the Livestock Fund committee will be offering a barbecue dinner.

However, balloons aren't the only thing that will be stirring up excitement in Prosser this weekend. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24 and 25, the Harvest Festival will be taking place in downtown. The festival includes different vendors, a street fair and crafts.

Saturday and Sunday, the Prosser Art Association will be hosting an event that will leave a mark downtown. The annual street painting festival will be held, which brings in different artists to transform the plain asphalt into gallery-quality masterpieces.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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Elena Olmstead/Daily Sun News

Paula Foote (L) and Prosser resident Susan Webber work to get the balloon, Tahnimara, ready to launch. Foote and her husband, Ray, are the balloon pilots. The two traveled from Boise, Idaho to attend the Prosser balloon rally.

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Elena Olmstead/Daily Sun News

More than two dozen hot air balloons will fill the skies over Prosser this weekend for the 15th annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally. The rally includes morning launches Saturday and Sunday, as well as a night glow Saturday night at Art Fiker Stadium.

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