balloon

A lone hot air balloon accompanies the sunrise Friday morning over Lake Havasu City. The balloon was piloted by Gary Moore, the “balloonmeister” of the upcoming 2022 Lake Havasu Balloon Festival & Fair.

One of Lake Havasu City’s biggest annual events is expected to take off next month, after it was grounded earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lake Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair has drawn countless balloon enthusiasts and sightseers to Lake Havasu’s shores for the past decade. And after last year’s interruption, organizers say the festival is set to return in January.

According to former Balloon Festival President Jim Day, this will be the first year of the event’s operation under new executive director Steve Ticknor - and the second balloon festival since the death of former director Marquita McKnight.

“This will be Steve’s first full year of making it all happen,” Day said. “It feels good. Everyone’s excited, and we’ve gotten a really good response. He’s doing a good job, and taking it seriously. (Organizing the event) is a big job, and there are a lot of moving parts.”

According to Day, however, not everyone will be returning this year. The event has traditionally seen participation from five sponsoring organizations, including the London Bridge Lions Club, the Daybreakers Lions Club, the Lake Havasu City Rotary Club, the Sunrise Rotary Club and the London Bridge Rotary Club. Proceeds from the event have long been divided between those five organizations, to be distributed in April to nonprofit and charitable organizations throughout Lake Havasu City. The London Bridge Lions withdrew from the event this year, and the Lake Havasu City Kiwanis Club has now joined the event’s sponsoring organizations.

And according to Ticknor, those organizations are prepared for next month’s event.

“We’re 100% ready, and we look forward to having a strong, positive event this year,” Ticknor said this week.

Ticknor says there won’t be many changes to the event compared to previous years, with 65 sport balloons and as many as 12 exhibitionionary “shaped” balloons expected to participate.

“Our committee chairs are working to get each piece of the puzzle in place,” Ticknor said. “We’re very excited to be back. I feel like the community is excited to have us back, and I think people are really looking forward to it.”

According to Ticknor, next month’s event will require no special measures or face covering requirements to protect visitors from possible exposure to the coronavirus. Unless things take a turn for the worse, Ticknor says guests will be responsible for their own safety.

“At this point, we’re leaving it up to individuals to decide whether to be masked or vaccinated, but that could change if things get worse,” Ticknor said.

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