Balloon Fest starts with a `glow,’ ends with a helping hand for home buyers |

Balloon Fest starts with a `glow,’ ends with a helping hand for home buyers

Balloon Fest 2002 will take to the skies this weekend. But more than a brilliant display of 20 hot air balloons lighting up the sky Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday morning, the event supports a good cause.

Proceeds from Balloon Fest 2002 go directly to the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors (GSAR) Affordable Housing Fund. Established in 1993, the fund helps first time home buyers secure home loans.

The festival begins with a balloon “glow” at 5:30 p.m. Friday with a barbecue dinner by Bob Fullerton of Re/Max Real Estate, a local caterer. He will donate the proceeds of the dinner to the affordable housing fund.

Dinner is $7.50 and includes barbecue ribs, all the fixings and a beverage.

The dinner is a chance for spectators to meet the balloon pilots and sponsors of the event, which includes local businesses and real estate companies.

Around 7:30 p.m. the pilots will begin to fill their balloons. As they inflate, the light from the gas burners which heat the balloons’ air will begin to glow in the twilight.

Saturday and Sunday will feature mass ascensions of hot air balloons at dawn at the Garfield County Airport east of Rifle.

The New Castle Lions Club will serve a pancake breakfast both days from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Cost for breakfast is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children. Admission to Balloon Fest 2002 is free.

The pilots will begin filling their balloons around 6:30 a.m. and will ascend about 7 or 7:30 a.m., said event organizer Curt Marsden of Vicki Lee Green and Associates Realtors.

Additional activities include a silent auction, an airport open house with static aircraft displays and Adventures in Aerospace, a computer flight simulator program. Kids will also get a chance to ride the airport’s fire truck and shoot off the water cannon.

Tethered balloons will carry people about 150 feet off the ground until 10:30 a.m.

The purpose of the festival is to raise awareness for the GSAR Affordable Housing Fund. Established in 1993, the fund assists first time home buyers with moderate incomes to secure home loans.

“To date, 13 grants have averaged about $1,600 each,” Marsden said.

The fund was set up to help first time home buyers who couldn’t come up with a down payment.

Local real estate companies also donate the interest earned on escrow accounts where earnest money is deposited temporarily while purchase contracts are finalized.

Money for the fund also comes from the City Market Cares program which gives a percentage of income to charity and which the Board of Realtors initiated last year, Marsden said.

Because of funds raised at last year’s Balloon Fest, 13 home buyers have been helped so far this year. Of those 13, two have purchased homes in Glenwood Springs, one in Parachute, three in Silt and seven in Rifle.

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