Rain holds off, thousands enjoy hot air balloons in Decatur

This is the 41st year for the Jubilee, but weather worries had some balloon pilots wondering if they'd get off the ground.

Posted: May 26, 2018 9:47 PM
Updated: May 27, 2018 6:43 PM

The Alabama Jubilee Festival filled the sky over Decatur with hot air balloons Saturday night.

This is the 41st year for the Jubilee, but weather worries had some balloon pilots wondering if they'd get off the ground.

WAAY 31 talked to those pilots and other folks at the festival about the weather delays.

“My wife has been wanting to come for several years, so we came out to see the hot air balloons," said Dennis Brown.

Brown is one of many people who showed up at the Alabama Jubilee Festival.

He had high hopes of getting to feel what it’s like to float in one of the balloons' baskets.

“Just a rush, I guess," he said.

But the balloons didn’t lift off right away. A couple of weather delays kept the crafts grounded.

Pilots weren’t allowed to give rides until about 7:00 Saturday night.

Pilot Ken Garner says he’s used to waiting on weather.

"In the past, you know, there’s been times whenever we’ve had to cancel because of rainstorms, thunderstorms, high winds," Garner said. "Weather is weather, we have no control over that.”

Thankfully, though, Garner says Saturday's weather didn’t stop the festival.

So, a lot of folks got to experience the thrill of a balloon ride.

“We see a lot of smiles on people’s faces, a lot of joy brought to the community," Garner said.

Brown says the weather delays definitely brought his family down, but just a bit.

“At one point, we were thinking we were probably going to leave and not see one go up," he said.

Garner says he understands why some people waiting to fly high were a little deflated.

“There’s not many places that they can do something like this," Garner said.

Even if the weather affects Sunday's balloon rides, the Jubilee has other events.

“We have got an Elvis impersonator coming on stage tonight, and then we’ve got another band coming on after he performs," Garner said.

“All of our children came and they’ve enjoyed the different blow-ups," Brown added.

Both Ken Garner and Dennis Brown say they’re glad Saturday's weather finally freed the balloons to ease into the air.

They were looking forward to high times no matter what.

“It’s been exciting," Brown said. "We’ve enjoyed the food and getting to walk around and see everything.”

“We’ll be enjoying the festival either way," Garner said. "We’ve got friends here. We’re like a family.”

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