Hot Air Balloon Festival Returns To Falls City

FALLS CITY – The Hot Air Balloon Festival returned to Falls City this weekend attracting a huge crowd and and reviving family memories.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 people made it to Brenner Field for the balloon launch, which was delayed because of an afternoon thunderstorm. Two balloons, the Remax balloon and the Emerald City Express, launched. Others were expanded for the night glow.

The Falls City Chamber of Commerce posted in their wildest dreams they never expected so many people, but will continue to build the event.

Among those riding Michael Jones’ Emerald City Express were Lori Gottula and her mom Judy Kimball.

The balloon festival had not been held since 1995, but the hot air balloon remained an important symbol for their family because Lori and her dad, Richard Kimball, got to take a ride.

Kimball: “He was like a kid with a new toy when he found out he was going to get to go. When he got up there – Lori went up with him my daughter – when he got up there he said this is the closest he would be to heaven until he died.”

He died three years later and the family had a hot air balloon  engraved on his headstone.

Kimball: “I just feel like my husband is going to be looking and seeing me in that hot air balloon and I’m doing it in memory of him.”

There were gentle westerly winds of  5 to 6  mph hour when the Remax balloon lifted off.