Better late than never, my response to last week’s prompt, New Dawn: How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…).

It is 5 a.m. on Sunday morning. My husband and I hurriedly dress in jeans and cozy sweaters. We pour hot coffee into travel mugs and drive across town. We are late.

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Our sunrise visions today: floating chili peppers, a waving pink cat, kissing goldfish. A glorious rosy sunrise to the east silhouettes these delicate behemoths. Children clad in fleece pajamas drag their bleary-eyed parents, darting between rising balloons and pointing upward to the skies.

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A couple pauses to snap a photo of flames from a gas burner. A group of university students, wrapped in wool blankets, huddle over steaming cups of cocoa. A woman cheerily waves a half-empty champagne bottle at passersby. A rattan basket rises from the ground, bearing its pilot aloft as the crowd claps and cheers. This is the fall weekend for one of my favorite hometown events, the Great Reno Balloon Races, one of the largest hot air balloon rallies in the country.

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As the sun rises, we walk on a damp grassy field, dodging tether ropes, as balloons of all colors and shapes rise from the ground around us. We have arrived too late for the Dawn Patrol, when a handful of balloons take to the sky, glowing and twinkling in the predawn dark. We have come for the Mass Ascension, a name that conjures images of religious ceremony and miracles. And that is how this spectacle feels, as a hundred balloons take shape and float above our heads. It is a celebration of the miracle of flight, a tradition that dates back centuries.

2014-09-07 06.58.51Every year we try to make this pilgrimage to worship these marvels at sunrise. They never fail to impress us.



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3 Responses to UP

  1. Tim Gatewood says:

    I have loved balloons for decades, especially the big ones. One of these days, I would love to see the Reno Balloon Races. Thanks for posting this. I will reblog it to share your pictures with my little slice of the world.

    • renobarb says:

      Thank you for sharing my post. I hope that you do come to the Great Reno Balloon Races one day. It’s a beautiful celebration and I get a thrill every time I see those balloons. The festival lasts for four days and each day there are balloons drifting in the skies over Reno. Sometimes I just park on a hill to watch. One year, one of the race balloons flew over our home and landed in the street a few blocks away (that happens more often than you would think).

  2. Tim Gatewood says:

    Reblogged this on Minister is a Verb and commented:

    Wonderful photos from the Great Reno Balloon Race. Enjoy!

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