For the 39th year running, hot-air balloons will fill the sky above Colorado Springs on Labor Day weekend. People from around Colorado and its surrounding states gather to launch and watch balloons of myriad colors and shapes. This year, approximately 75 balloons are expected to launch, including Darth Vader and Yoda balloons.
This year's Labor Day Liftoff is especially exciting, since it almost didn't happen. Last year, after 38 years, the organizers of the Colorado Balloon Classic, the former Labor Day balloon event in Colorado Springs, announced that the event would end in 2014.
"It was going to end last year, and the community was upset," says Scott James, branch manager at the Springleaf* Colorado Springs branch. Thankfully, a new company has taken the reins, creating a new event to keep the Labor Day balloons flying.
"Everybody is excited that it's still on. It's a tradition now," James adds.
James has attended almost every Labor Day launch since he was a kid. When he was in 4th grade, he went to watch the balloons take off, and when he returned home, he saw one of the balloons land a block from his house. The balloon's pilot then allowed James and the other neighborhood kids to experience a balloon ride, going 30 feet up in the air while still tethered to the ground.
James looks forward to being a participant in the balloon launching once again, this time as part of the Springleaf team.
This year, Springleaf will be an official balloon sponsor, and a Springleaf hot-air balloon will join the colorful array in the skies. The balloon, which will be shaped like a shamrock, will carry a lucky Springleaf customer and guest as it floats through the air.
Meanwhile, James and his branch team will be chatting with people and handing out free glow-in-the-dark gear at the Springleaf booth during the balloon launch, as well as other events throughout the weekend. Other weekend activities include demonstrations from the U.S. Air Force Skydiving team, musical performances, a Beach Bash, and ultimate frisbee and wakeboarding exhibitions.
With so many different events, Labor Day Liftoff is a big hit with people of all ages. "It's family-oriented, and it's something that the whole community can be a part of," James says. "It's fun to be part of the crowd of people. There's a very, very fun atmosphere."
James and his team are looking forward to being part of that crowd. "It's going to be a lot of fun for us. We're very excited."
"It's nice to work for a company we can be proud of," James adds. "We'll be able to see our balloon going over the city, and we can be proud to say, 'hey, that's us!'"
To learn more about the Colorado Springs Labor Day Liftoff event, visit their site.