This was my second trip up to Windsor, CA to see the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic 2007. The day, as can happen up in that part of CA, was a bitter disappointment as the persistent fog conspired to keep the balloons grounded for the day.
Since the main event had been canceled, my brother-law, nephew and I decided to take the long way home and make a quick jaunt through the Sonoma back yard vineyards and roads. It still turned out to be a fun – albeit not as colorful – day.
To get the full experience you must get there early enough to watch the Dawn Patrol. These early risers begin their weekend mornings before daylight to launch at 5 a.m. (which means I had to be on the road to Windsor about an hour and a half earlier!) The dedicated balloon pilots use heat to fill their balloons during the dark, sometimes foggy morning hours, which makes for a breathtaking sight. For those who consider 5 a.m. too early and have not yet risen, many more balloons lift off during the Main Launch at 6:30 a.m. While the balloons float overhead, the launch park hosts food, music, and crafts vendors who turn out to serve spectators and enjoy the festivities, which run until 11 am.
The Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic (SCHABC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to building awareness in and promoting the sport of hot air ballooning, in addition to helping raise money for local charitable organizations. SCHABC is made up of many dedicated volunteers from all walks of life. Dedicated balloon pilots usually own their own balloons and donate their money, time, crew, and fuel to attend and help promote hot air ballooning during the Classic.
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