Hot air balloons will be glowing above Plainville later this month for the town’s 32nd Annual Balloon Fest.
There are major changes when it comes to safety and traffic this year.
The event will be at Norton Park in Plainville on August 26-28 and is hosted by the Plainville Fire Company.
“It’s really an amazing sight watching them rise up and really float away,” said retired fire chief David Laurie.
But with the event comes potential safety concerns, especially after 16 people died in Lockhart, Texas last week when a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed into a pasture.
The Plainville Fire Company is hosting the event, and officials say each balloonist has been checked to confirm they are legitimate.
“They’re all licensed they’re all experienced and their baskets are more like six or eight people maximum,” Laurie said.
There will also be fire, police and medics on hand. Extra training will also be provided to public safety.
“We have a training session Monday night with some balloonists coming in and taking re-going over the safety of the propane tanks and the balloon baskets and so forth,” said Plainville Fire Marshal Larry Southerland.
Traffic is also a safety concern and some revelers say congestion has been a big problem in previous years.
“It’s taken maybe an hour or so just to get down the street both ways going down so it doesn’t matter which direction you’re going,” said Plainville resident Kaitlin Helaire.
This year, traffic planning and bus routes have been developed with the help of several town departments. There will be no public parking allowed in Norton Park with the exception of Handicap Parking, motorcycles, vender and crafter parking and event staff parking.
Parking will be available from Robertson Airport, Carlingswitch, GE and the Plainville High School at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Parking will be available from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday August 27 at all four locations.
This year the amount of portable restrooms has increased and food service has been expanded.
Hot air balloons will be in flight at 6 p.m. Friday, 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday. While the event is free, there is a fee and application to hop on a balloon. To sign up as a rider, balloonist, a craft vendor or event volunteer go to Plainvillefireco.com.