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21 Balloon salute

PROSSER — Hot air balloon enthusiasts filled the city Saturday and Sunday for the annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally. Organizer Morgan Everett said 21 balloons took flight during the weekend, one of the best fields ever in attendance. The successful Saturday and Sunday flights followed a dismal Friday morning, when rain in the Sunnyside area and Columbia River Gorge prompted the first day’s launch to be scrubbed. On Saturday morning, the air was calm over the airport and more than a dozen of the pilots kept their balloons over the airport. But two headed downtown for quick touchdowns in the Yakima River above Prosser Diversion Dam. A couple others took a more rural flight path, heading east toward Benton City. On Saturday night, Art Fiker Stadium was full of hot air balloon fans who turned out for the annual Night Glow. Five balloonists unpacked in the Mustang’s football stadium and inflated their balloons. After sunset, three used their burners to make the balloons glow. A breezy Sunday sunrise carried most balloonists downstream; some landed at Tree Top or alongside I-82.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

Nine of 21 hot air balloons take to the air above Prosser Airport on Saturday morning for a sunrise flight over the area.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

Prosser firefighters Lionel Martinez, left, and Luis Lopez serve biscuits and gravy to hungry ralliers in front of the West Benton Fire Station.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

Balloons appear to fly inverted in a crystal ball held up by a visitor at The Great Prosser Balloon Rally along Wine Country Road early Saturday.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

McKenna Secrist, 17, of Bothell, prepares a burner on her family’s balloon for flight Saturday before sunrise.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

A kayaker gets a close-up view of a balloon that touched down briefly on the surface of the Yakima River above Prosser Diversion Dam.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

The inside of a balloon lights up with the rising sun.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

A balloon sponsored by Prosser Animal Hospital takes flight from Prosser Airport on Saturday.

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Photo by Roger Harnack

A balloon flies over Tree Top on Sunday.

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