Glow in the Wind: Balloons Light Up the Sky at NJ Balloon Fest

By Olivia Yepez

You’ve probably heard of moonlight.

But the glow of the balloons?

Hot air balloons at Solberg Airport in Readington lit up the night sky with bursts of flame on Saturday.

It was one of the highlights of the 39th edition of the weekend New Jersey Balloon Festival.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Lottery, the festival had 100 balloons and seven mass ascensions over three days. There were over 80 vendors and concerts included classic rock band Kansas, best known for the 1976 hit Hold on until the end, my boy.

Slideshow photos by Olivia Yepez. Click/hover over images for captions:

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Additionally, a Run with the balloons 5K offered free hot air balloon rides to male and female winners.

But there was only one balloon glow. Balloon Master John Piper led the crowd in a countdown: “3…2…1…Glow!”

Bursts of fire lit up the balloons, contrasting them with the darkening evening sky in a 20-minute display.

The festival has been a summertime favorite for generations.

Cynthia and Glenn Stanger have been attending the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning since 2005. Photo by Olivia Yepez

“We’ve been coming for years,” said Cynthia Stanger74. Her and her husband Glenn, 75, installed with a blanket and a lawn chair, in front of the glow. They had spent part of their day shopping at the various vendors at the event and sharing a meal of chicken fillets and fries.

The couple first attended the Festival of Ballooning in 2005 with their adopted children, and they have been regular attendees ever since.

Resident of Morris County Kaitlin Rodio, 28, was a beginner. She worked serving guests in an Italian ice cream cart from Magliano.

“I’ve always heard of it, but I didn’t know it was such a big event,” said Rodio, who enjoyed hearing the loud music and blasts of hot air balloons, which she hadn’t expected.

A 29-year-old client from Trenton, who requested to go through ME, was also making her first visit. She is looking forward to a hot air balloon ride next year.

“I’ll be back,” she said.

UP, UP AND AWAY! The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, July 30, 2022. Photo by Olivia Yepez