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Hot Air Balloons Become a Winter Spectacle in Downtown DSM

Hot Air Balloons in DSM

January 27, 2021

Performing a night glow is nothing out of the ordinary for balloon pilots. This is especially true for those of us who attend balloon events such as the National Balloon Classic in Indianola. Normally night glows happen for about 45 minutes to an hour on a hot summer night or maybe a crisp fall evening. We like the winds to be low and predictable. Large open spaces with as few objects around as possible are ideal. So, one might wonder why a bunch of balloon pilots and their crews agreed to get out in freezing temperatures for over an hour last weekend in somewhat small spaces with buildings that can create wind tunnels and numerous other obstacles.

Supporting Local Businesses

Over the past year, all our local events were canceled and, like many other things in 2020, this left a sizable hole in our hearts. So, when local pilots were approached by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and asked if we wanted to stand for an hour and a half in frigid weather holding onto metal burners for the Great DSM Hot Air Balloon Hunt, we of course said, “Sure — weather permitting!” This wasn’t due to a mental deficiency (although that may be up for some debate). This was our way to provide some joy and support for our community.

When we go to balloon events, there are always sponsors who donate to help defray the costs of running an event. These sponsors are local businesses, both large and small. They help make it possible for us to do what we love doing. So, if we can work in less-than-ideal conditions to help remind people of the restaurant they haven’t ordered from or the shop that is new to the area and simply trying to survive, we are glad to do it. And while we hope to bring some much-needed traffic to this part of town, we are also participating in one of our favorite parts of the sport: introducing it to new people. We love the look on a child’s face when they see a balloon up close for the first time. We chuckle at the instinctual duck-and-cover reaction when someone hears the blast of the burner and feels the wave of ambient heat as it flows away from the basket. The faces are a little harder to see with the masks, and people can’t get as close as they would like, but it was a great opportunity to experience Downtown DSM in a different way last weekend. We hope we can pull it off again this coming weekend — weather permitting, of course.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.