A Night of Magic and Color: The Balloon Glow Festival 2023

By Katie Loethen  


Hot air balloons are marvels of science and engineering, having the capability to gracefully float in the sky and captivate our imaginations, with their colorful and buoyant orbs, as well as having the capability to transport people far distances.  

In honor of the creative transportation made by science and engineering, we have festivals dedicated to showing off these profound vehicles. Now let us take off in the discussion of the Balloon Glow festival of 2023.  

The festival that I attended was in Saint Louis in Forest Park and of course, the event was called the “Balloon Glow and Balloon Race” that took place September 16-17. During the festival, there was a lot going on. There were rows of balloons in the middle of the field and people were crowding around to see these giant balloons. Then to the farther parts of the field, rows of food stalls make a box around the balloons a good distance away with lines of people to get a taste of the food. Stalls for funnel cakes, lemonade, off-brand Dip-n-Dots, and so much more, the stalls smelled of fried goods, and baked cakes as well as the gas from the balloons. Near the end of the festival, there would be an alarm and the balloon pilots would burn gas in the balloon and show off the colors at night.  

“I’ve enjoyed it the first time as well and none of us are St. Louis natives, it’s like a really cool part of St. Louis,” said festival on-goer Libbie. “I think it’s great it’s a beautiful night everyone is super friendly people, and they seem to be enjoying it” said by festival goer Mariel.  

The festival and the hot air balloons are what everyone comes for, however, what does it take to operate one of these large but simple-looking vehicles?  

Piolet and operator Jady Wade said, “If you know that there will be different wind directions at different altitudes, luck Is part of hoping you get the right one and going in the right direction.” “Honestly if you compare it to any other type of flying thing, it’s very attentive to let the wind do what you want to do what you have to do is work around the wind.”  

Working with the wind is no joke, especially trying to be able to control it, as Jady Wade said there is a lot of working around the problems of direction that come with flying a hot air balloon. But what’s the process of getting a license of a hot air balloon pilot?  

“…it’s a process with the FAA it’s just like getting a license for an airplane there’s a certain number of hours you’re required to have a certain number of subjects you required to cover written test that you have to pass and then you have to take a practical test with an examiner from the FAA and then get them there if they deem you, covered all the proper things you got all your paperwork in order that you need to file piolet certificate,” Hot air balloon piolet Jady wade said.  

Jady Wade has discussed the difficulties and the hoops you must get over to get and receive your hot balloon pilot’s license, even though driving a hot air balloon looks simple and easy it is quite unfortunately not. Also, if you are ever in Kentucky go check out Jady Wade at Lagrange Kentucky to ride in one of the hot air balloons with Jady.  

Even though hot air balloons are difficult to drive and getting a license for that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy their beauty and the festivals of them. Festivals are meant to remind us of human creativity, so next year immerse yourself in the “Balloon Glow and Balloon Race” of 2024.  

“We look forward to it every year, I think it highlights a unique part of St. Louis highlighting the city” said by festival-goer Jack. 

2023 Forest Park Balloon Glow

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