Third annual Glass City Balloon Race takes flight in Rossford

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    In this file photo, hot air balloons land during the The Glass City Balloon Race Saturday, July 15, 2017, at ProMedica adjacent to Levis Commons in Perrysburg, Ohio.

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  • Ten years ago, Jessica Tyler received a phone call from her husband confirming he had just purchased his very first hot air balloon. Growing up around balloons and crewing for his older brother, Jake Tyler decided to get in on the hobby himself.

    Since then, the couple has traveled to Mississippi, New Mexico, Michigan, Indiana and even the Philippines, hosting hot air balloon events, and they are the founders of the Glass City Balloon Race.

    This weekend, the Tylers will be bringing all the fun to Ohio as they light up the Rossford sky for its third annual race.

    Since its inception in Maumee, the race has grown and expanded to Perrysburg and now Rossford, allowing people all over Ohio to join in on the fun.

    “It’s a great way to engage and bring the community together,” Mrs. Tyler said.  

    As a child, Mrs. Tyler said she frequently attended festivals and enjoyed watching hot air balloons take off. She wanted to provide a similar environment so people of all ages could enjoy hot air balloons.

    With the help of Hollywood Casino Toledo and the City of Rossford, the Tylers are making this opportunity free for everyone to watch.

    This year’s race offers pilot meet-and-greets along with “evening glows” when propane burners are ignited to keep the balloons inflated with hot air, making the balloons glow like large light bulbs.

    Executive Director of Conventions Beth Genson said 5,000 people attended the first balloon race. The number climbed to about 25,000 people the following year with 16 balloons participating.

    This year’s three-day flight schedule has balloons launching at 6:15 a.m. Friday through Sunday along with 7:30 p.m. launches on Friday and Saturday. The Friday launch is set for a media flight east of Total Sports Rossford,10020 S. Compass Dr., but Saturday is when the competition begins with 18 hot air balloons taking to the skies for five flights throughout the weekend.

    Unlike traditional races, this race will not be based on speed. Instead, pilots are expected to navigate their balloon to land the baggie on the target, Mrs. Tyler said. There will be cash prizes for pilots and hand-blown glass balloon-shaped trophies for first-place winners.

    During balloon flights, attendees are free to enjoy food trucks, music, and activities.

    Some of these activities include helicopter rides, BMX bike demos, craft booths, a beer garden, a 5K race, and inflatables for children to enjoy.

    Regional bands Mustang Sally and Mega 80s will be performing during nightly concerts.

    Accompanied by fireworks, the competition will come to an end with balloon glows from 9-10 p.m.The celebration continues with the after party taking place from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Reset, 27250 Crossroads Parkway, in Rossford. The party will include a DJ, open volleyball, corn hole and arcade games.

    Companies and large groups of 10 interested in having a VIP concert experience can reserve tables at the Glass City Balloon Race website Tables will be available each night under the iHeart Media VIP Tents with drinks, snacks, an up-front viewing area, private bars, restrooms, and parking.

    VIP guests will also have the chance to win a hot air balloon ride for two. A portion of proceeds will support the ARC Program in Wood County and provide transportation for participants in the program to assist in their path to recovery. The full amount of the purchase is tax-deductible as a donation to the Rossford Convention.

    The event will include free parking in designated areas throughout crossroads in Rossford with shuttle service provided by TARTA.

    For more information about the event, contact Jessica Tyler at 419-482-8136.

    Contact Areeba Shah at ashah@theblade.com419-724-6066, or on Twitter @areebashah_.