Arts & Entertainment

Any given Saturday, Park City’s hot air ballooning

PARK CITY, Utah — If Park City’s 8 a.m. winter ubiquitous community alarm clock is the human-made avalanche control booms, its summer counterpart is blasting burners the of the hot air balloons. And if you ask some longtime locals, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

On any given Saturday residents in the Highland Estates neighborhood, as the crow flies between Kimbal Jct. and Home Depot, that alarm clock exists.

By 8:10 a.m., the basket of a yellow balloon had set down on Mountain View Dr., slowly and safely. By 8:15, homeowners were out on their street, coffee cups in hand. At 8:20 a.m., a second balloon also set down gently and safely in an open space between homes off of Countryside Circle, both streets are off of Highland Dr. By 8:50 a.m., both balloons with their baskets were packed up, loaded onto their company cars, and driving out of the neighborhood on Silver Summit Parkway.

Then on Monday, three hot air balloons were flying slow and low near the Triumph factory and the ReStore store.

Linda Haymering has been a Deer Valley Ski Instructor for 21 seasons. For 10 of those, her off seasons have been spent working in New Mexico as a crew chief for a hot air balloon pilot. She told TownLift, “Policy regarding communication with passengers before the flight is set by each company as to what, where, and how the flight will go and where the balloon might need to land. Regarding landing zone procedures, every municipality is different. When we’re flying for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, there are many more restrictions than there are in the Park City area. For example: if you land on the Navajo Reservation land, you need a police escort to leave the spot where you’ve landed. Some have elevation restrictions. There’s a horse breeding farm in the Albuquerque area. Our minimum elevation restriction is 1500′ above their land, so we don’t stress the horses when we use our loud burners.”

No people, animals, structures, or throughway integrity was disturbed by the two aforementioned Park City balloon experiences. To the contrary, by-standers, standing by their houses, told TownLift, “Not only is it not a nuisance,” said Kris Olsen, “living here my whole life, it’s a welcome sight and sound, it’s nostalgic, it’s very Park City.”
His wife, Lori, who has been on two hot air balloon rides, one with Kris, told TownLift, “It’s the best alarm clock; I love having the hot air balloons around Park City.”
Their neighbor Meaghan Newsome, whose house was mere yards from the landed yellow balloon, told TownLift, “That was a pretty amazing landing. It’s kind of cool when they land close like this; it’s exciting.”
Whether setting down in an open space, a commercial location, or a residential neighborhood, calm, cordial, curious, and comedic is how all the passengers who got carefully out of the stopped, upright baskets and the witnesses on the ground acted after these albeit unplanned, yet not unexpected landings. The employees of the balloon companies were professional, prompt, and personable to all stakeholders.

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