Walla Walla Balloon Stampede plans October return after two-year hiatus during pandemic | Entertainment

The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede will return this fall after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers announced this week.

The normally annual event will take place this year from Wednesday, October 19 to Sunday, October 23 at Howard-Tietan Park in what organizers are calling the 46th edition of the event rather than the 46th annual event due to those missed years.

Columbia REA will again sponsor the stampede, and balloon company Lighter than Air America will host it.

Laurie Spencer of Lighter Than Air America has been hosting the event since 2013 and is thrilled to have it back.

Spencer said she appreciates the “incredible” hospitality the Walla Walla community has shown balloon pilots and its staff over the years.

“People in the community really make the event happen,” she said. “We want to help them create an unforgettable memory. Balloons are magical to look at, whatever your age.

The event will feature up to 30 different hot air balloons, and the traditional Children’s Day will offer children the chance to take a hot air balloon ride up to 30 feet off the ground.

“The wonder and awe in children’s eyes when they see our balloons is one of my favorite things to see,” Spencer said.

The first hot air balloon stampede in Walla Walla took place in 1975 and is the third oldest hot air balloon event in the United States, attracting balloon pilots from all over the Pacific Northwest.