Glowing in the wind: Balloons illuminate sky at NJ Balloon Fest

BALLOON GLOW: The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, July 30, 2022. Photo by Olivia Yepez
By Olivia Yepez


You’ve probably heard of moon glow.

But balloon glow?

Hot air balloons at Solberg Airport in Readington illuminated themselves against the night sky using bursts of flame on Saturday.

It was among the highlights of the weekend’s 39th annual New Jersey Festival of Ballooning.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Lottery, the festival boasted 100 balloons and seven mass ascensions across three days. There were more than 80 vendors, and concerts included the classic rock band Kansas, best known for the 1976 hit Carry on Wayward Son.

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

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Additionally, a Run with the Balloons 5K awarded free balloon rides to the male and female winners.

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

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

The festival has been a summer favorite for generations.

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

“We’ve been coming for years,” said Cynthia Stanger, 74. She and husband Glenn, 75, set up with a blanket and lawn chair, ahead of the glow. They’d spent part of their day shopping at the event’s various vendors, and sharing a meal of chicken tenders and fries.

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

Morris County resident Kaitlin Rodio, 28, was a first-timer. She worked serving guests at a Magliano’s Italian ice cart.

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

A 29-year-old patron from Trenton, who asked to go by M.E., also was making her first visit.  She looks forward to catching a ride in a balloon next year.

“I will be back,” she said.

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