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Hot air balloons take flight in Decatur this weekend

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Weighing more than a diesel truck and moving through the sky without any propellers, hot air balloons are a sight to see. And visitors and residents in Decatur have a chance to see these balloons in action this Memorial Day weekend.

The 46th annual Alabama Jubilee is all day Saturday and Sunday at Point Mallard Park. 54 balloons will fly or tether in the early mornings and late afternoons. Visitors may also view antique car and tractor shows on Saturday and arts and crafts shows on both days.

Ken Garner is the president of the Alabama Jubilee Committee. He said he recommends any Alabamian who has not seen hot air balloons to drop by and witness them in all of their glory.

“If you’ve never been around hot air balloons before, it’s nothing like walking up close to a 70-foot tall, 60-foot-diameter hot air balloon and listening to the sounds and listening to the crews as they work,” Garner said. “Just being around one of the gentle giants of the sky.”

This is Alabama’s longest-running hot air balloon event and the only hot air balloon event in the state that is free admission. Parking is also free. The event is so popular that Decatur is nicknamed the Ballooning Capital of Alabama.

And balloons are not just fun to watch in-person. Garner said the Alabama Jubilee promotes the city of Decatur’s tourism industry and local businesses.

“It exposes people from outside of the area to the Decatur-Morgan County area,” he said. “We’ve had people move here. We’ve had people come and buy cars here, buy houses here. Most of the time, all the hotel rooms are booked up for Alabama Jubilee.”

Garner said he recommends visitors wear comfortable shoes, pack sunscreen and be weather aware. Animals are not recommended due to the loud noises of the balloons firing.

Visitors should also plan to arrive before 3 p.m. Point Mallard Park has only one entrance, and traffic can back up for miles.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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