Hot Air Balloon Festival Coming to Grayslake

The festival is slated for Aug. 24 in Central Park.

Picture this: It's a warm August evening. As the sun's rays fade, you're soon surrounded by glowing hot air balloons. Now imagine this taking place right here in Lake County.

The Village of Grayslake is planning to host its first-ever hot air balloon festival, Color Aloft!, on Aug. 24 in Central Park. The event is set to feature six balloons, along with live entertainment and a few food vendors.

"Our goal is to try to build community spirit, to make it a memorable event," said Grayslake Trustee Bruce Bassett.

The hot air balloon festival idea came about almost as a joke, Bassett explained. He was chatting with recently-retired resident Pat Klemens at Emil's in Grayslake one day and "I said, 'We should put you to work, maybe get a new event together. Maybe a hot air balloon festival."

Bassett said he threw that idea out there just as an example of what they could do "without really expecting it would be that, in any definitive way."

But during their conversation, Bassett learned that Klemens used to be a balloonist.

"From that point, things just kind of fell into place," Bassett said. They were able to pencil in a festival date on the Balloon Federation of America calendar thanks to a cancellation by another organization that had been planning to hold a similar event.

"And it turns out that not only is Pat an experienced balloonist, but he's also flown around Grayslake," Bassett said. Klemens, he said, has insight into what balloonists can expect in the air here.

Bassett and Klemens plan to get six balloonists to commit to participating in Grayslake's inaugural event.

"We just want to start small," said Bassett. "We want to do it well enough so the balloonists will want to come back."

The festival will feature a fox-and-hounds event, which involves sending up a balloon, giving it a head start to reach a landing spot, and then sending the other balloons (the hounds) up to find the first balloon.

The balloons will return to Central Park and then, after dark, they'll light up their burners so the balloons are illuminated from the inside, said Bassett.

The event will be free to the public, Bassett said. The Grayslake Village Board, he said, agreed to spend $5,000 to cover event-related costs. For example, the village will provide the propane for the balloonists, along with meals and lodging, Bassett said.

He added that there will be sponsorship opportunities for local businesses and organizations, though many of these details are still being worked out.

jeff jones May 13, 2013 at 08:38 AM
wow,cry broke when its time to pay teachers,but have extra money lying around to pay for propane and lodging for ballonists
marilyn May 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM
you're kidding me, right? If things were good, this would be fine...but things AREN'T good, are they? We've got stupid brick pillars all over the place- not only can you NOT read them when you are driving, they block the view of oncoming traffic, and come on do we really need directions around Grayslake? do we really have that many people lost and clueless, with no app? Is tourism up that much around here? Now money for...balloonists. And money for a grocery store's 'facade'. And yet, the old Fair Grounds sits there...you know, the Fair Grounds that we the people paid a ridiculously high price for, and are still paying for>? Yep, that one. this is just embarrassing.
marilyn May 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM
more accurately- The 'Trustees' agreed to spend YOUR money for this. I say it's time to see exactly what we are 'trusting' the 'trustees' with.....
Jim Marshall May 13, 2013 at 01:44 PM
As I posted on the Village's FB page, this is a great idea! Jeff Jones and marilyn, you two could not be more wrong. A) Who "cry wolf". The Village works with in a balanced budget every year. Do you understand municipal revenues and budgeting? B) $5,000 is a minimal expense for such an event to promote and build good will for the community. marilyn, again, you show your lack of business knowledge by posting things like you do. You have to spend money to make money. This will be good for everyone. Thank you, to the Village of Grayslake for sponsoring such an event for the community and good luck! I know my family will be there!
Cyndi G May 13, 2013 at 03:07 PM
I love the idea! This will bring people to the area and promote our local businesses. We will be there!
jeff jones May 13, 2013 at 03:21 PM
what money are they going to make on a free event jim,maybe you should do the math
drg1962 May 13, 2013 at 03:25 PM
I love this idea! I think it will be fun to come see which also means that I will be eating food and spending money in your community. That is what you should be thinking about...:)
Cornbread May 13, 2013 at 05:35 PM
If you want, I'm more than happy to give $1.75 which is appx your share. Gawd are you an angry person.
Tony May 13, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Johnson H. May 13, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Marilyn, What money was spent on the Old Fair Grounds? NONE is the answer. It is owned by a private corporation. One that was going to build an outdoor mall there, but the economy went in the tank. The Village has no money tied up in the grounds. Next time you open your mouth think twice, do a little research and educate yourself on the issue.
Johnson H. May 13, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Jeffey, Village makes money on sales tax. I bet the business would love to have thousands of visitors to Grayslake. Lets see, sales tax on merchandise, food, gas, Hotel Tax, etc. I bet the Village makes their money back easily. The Village has operated with a balanced budget for multiple years in a row. I guess some people are never happy.
Michelle May 13, 2013 at 09:40 PM
What a GREAT idea! My family will be there, not to mention it's my sons 17th birthday. It's a different type of even that I'm sure most haven't been to before. I can't wait!
Cheryl Polly Machak May 14, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Count me in! I love it!!!
Jim Marshall May 14, 2013 at 01:42 AM
jeff jones and marilyn, I would like to personally invite you to attend the event and see just how nice an evening in Central Park can be. I mean, I know it's not my place, but maybe you see how nice things can be in Grayslake and you'll pull your horns in a little bit on some issues.
Jerry Pech May 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Abraham Lincoln said it best: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt." Learn it, know it, live it.
Nightcrawler May 14, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Speaking of things jeff, marilyn, et. al. really hate, I see the new Farmers Market Place facade is up and activity is picking up inside the store. Any word on when it might open?
G-Lake Native 18yrs May 15, 2013 at 09:28 AM
They should offer Balloon Rides for $15 a couple, $10 single. That would bring some extra cash to the community!
Kim H May 15, 2013 at 08:56 PM
What a GREAT idea. We can't wait. Thank you to all who are making this possible!
Joyce Roberts May 16, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Clearly you do not understand that the school districts are their own taxing body separate from the Village and the Park District. I think this is a great idea and will be a fun event for families, Central Park has been developed into a very nice place.
Pete Mule May 24, 2013 at 04:56 AM
Glad to see the positive comments on the Balloon event. I'm very pleased that the village is investing in this. Destination events like this and the Craft Brew Fest in June help draw visitors as well as foster a sense of community...... and the new Farmer's Market Place is open. They did a nice job in improving the lighting, produce and meat departments....in my opinion.
anamericancynic August 23, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Is Central Park big enough? Why not the fair ground or the old fair grounds?


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