“As good as it gets!” Many attending the 2023 Page/Lake Powell Balloon Regatta described the weather in this way. November 2 - 5 blessed the Regatta with calm, cool weather, perfect for flying a hot air balloon. The 2023 Balloon Regatta was held at the Lake Powell National Golf Course and in downtown Page. According to the City of Page, 66 balloons registered for the weekend’s event.
Organized by the City of Page and the Page- Lake Powell Chamber of Commerce, the Regatta is one of the largest annual events in Page. People gathered at the southern end of the golf course for the street fair, walking to the field across Lake Powell Blvd from Page Lumber and other businesses where the large parking lot was almost full-on Saturday.
Left to right, photos by Phil Clark:
A balloon floats above Lake Powell.
The November 4 Balloon Glow lit up Lake Powell Blvd., much to the delight of spectators.
Lake Powell National Golf Course was one of two locations where balloons launched.
Balloons prepare to launch from the Lake Powell National Golf Course.
Friday, “Media Flight Day,” was the first day the skies above Page filled with balloons. Calm skies kept the balloons mostly within the city limits, with a handful making it near Antelope Canyon, a common goal for pilots.
Saturday was a big day for activities with a mass ascension, outdoor market, and evening balloon glow. The calm skies again kept the balloons from traveling far. City of Page estimated between 1,200 and 1,500 people at the golf course.
On Saturday night, at least a dozen hot air balloons lined up along Lake Powell Boulevard for the “Balloon Glow.” The balloons lit the burners together, lighting up the to the amazement of the crowd. Between 2,500 and 3,500 people watched the balloons and shopped at the street fair.
Live music was performed both nights. Entertainment included a bounce-house, beer garden and vendors of food and other items. Hot air ballooning is a sport for early risers. As the sun rose each morning, the Balloonmeister led the Pilot’s Briefing at 7:15 a.m., with this year marking the first year of a new Balloonmeister. Gary Godfrey. At the end of the briefing, “pie balls” (helium filled party balloons) were released to see how different layers of air are moving and decide flight plans.
Pilots who come to the event usually need volunteers from the community to help launch and retrieve a balloon. While previous experience is appreciated, anyone can learn how to crew a balloon. The pilots explain safety matters and what needs to be done to the volunteers, who see firsthand what it takes to get a balloon flying. All you need is a pair of gloves, often provided by pilots.
Once the balloon is assembled, the pilot increases air temperature inside the balloon’s “envelope” until it is hot enough to lift the gondola and passengers into the sky. As the balloon drifts, the Chase Crew drives around to keep track of the balloon. The pilot directs the crew to a landing spot, preferably accessible by road.
A ride in a balloon shouldn’t be assumed, as sponsors of the balloon have priority. According to a city official, interested members of the community should contact the City of Page for information on how to volunteer as a crew member as early as July. This year there remained a need for crew, even as balloons were being readied for flight.
Once the balloon is back on the ground and packed away, most pilots meet up with their crew at the Page Sports Complex to share food with the crew and friends. Crew members and people who have had their first flight are usually “baptized” with champagne into the balloonist community with a short and memorable ceremony. The pilot recites the Balloonists Prayer: “May the winds welcome you with softness. May the sun bless you with its warm hands. And sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
The City of Page, led by Lynn Cormier and Sheri Ptacek, organized the Regatta. According to Cormier, Director of Community Services said, “We always appreciate all of the pilots who travel so far to truly make this a great experience; they came as far away as Maryland. All of the sponsors deserve an applause; the businesses of Page pull together wonderfully to support this event! The Page Chamber is awesome at handling the Street Fair and live music at the event.” For more information, check out events.cityofpage.org/balloonregattaandpagechamberstreetfair.com.