Angola Balloons Aloft No. 10 best ever

Colorful hot air balloons light up at last year’s Balloons Aloft with thousands on the Angola High School campus to watch. The illumination event is still being planned this year while taking into consideration social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

ANGOLA — Angola Balloons Aloft will brighten the skies as scheduled July 10-12.

Event director Tim Crooks has worked hard over the past months to keep the tradition alive while keeping the public safe from the potential spread of coronavirus. Some details are still being ironed out with the hopes to provide as much community entertainment as possible.

“We will not be having any activities at Angola High School,” said Crooks. “We have eliminated the kids fun zone, food court, educational displays, characters, tractor displays, vendors, helicopter rides and Meet the Fleet. Many will ask why we did this. We felt we could not provide the proper items needed to keep our visitors safe, such as cleaning the restrooms after each use, water for hand washing, safe social distancing and proper disposal of trash. We would also need to sanitize all of the fun zone activities.”

This is the 11th year for Balloons Aloft. It has become a popular draw for guests not just from Steuben County, but from throughout the region.

“This free, family event has always been funded by the very generous sponsors within our community,” Crooks said. “We partner with many not-for-profits and other members of the community to make this happen. This takes hundreds of hours of planning and more than 400 volunteers who dedicate themselves to the event. After everyone’s lives changed in March due to the pandemic, we began planning how we could put on an event that would lift the community’s spirits and keep everyone safe. We are still working out many details.”

While Indiana’s Back on Track schedule finalizes July 4, allowing groups of more than 250 and sanctioning festivals and fairs, attention to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to prevent virus spread are still urged.

With that in mind, the balloon display will still be provided to all in view of Angola area skies but will take on a socially distanced tact.

The balloons will start their weekend competition Friday evening, July 10. Typically, approximately 35 balloons participate, but this year, 17 competition and three special shape balloons will participate.

“Balloons will fill the skies Friday night, Saturday morning and evening plus Sunday morning,” Crooks said. “This is all wind and weather permitting. Our competition director is working hard to find different launch areas and targets in and around the Angola area so people will be able to see the balloons from their homes or other safe areas.”

Thousands of people gathered at Angola High School for the luminaries following two days of festivities surrounding Angola Balloons Aloft last year. The event has been staged at Angola High School for four years now, moving from Tri-State Steuben County Municipal Airport.

Illumination is tentatively set for Friday at approximately 9:15 p.m. at the high school.

“We’re still working out the details,” Crooks said. “People will need to stay in their cars to view the illuminations. A few balloons might glow at another location in Angola, allowing for people to safely park and view them.”

Balloons Aloft has a Facebook page, and Crooks suggested people follow the event’s social media to get updates.

Balloons will fly Saturday morning and evening, July 11, as well as Sunday morning, July 12.

The classic car cruise, normally held at the high school, will take to the roads. On Saturday, July 11, participants will cruise through the county, stopping briefly at various local sites for people to view the cars from a safe distance.

Angola Balloons Aloft will begin selling special T-shirts in mid-June. These shirts will list all of the sponsors and proceeds will be given to the Steuben County Community Foundation to be distributed to various not-for-profits later this year.

“We ask that everyone be patient because Angola Balloons Aloft 2020 is still a work in progress,” Crooks said. “The best way to stay updated on the event is to follow us on Facebook.”

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