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Balloons to soar Saturday, Sunday

Balloons to soar Saturday, Sunday

Jul 14, 2017 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Other Riverton Rendezvous highlights this weekend include the Friday Night Cruise and Rocky Mountain Rebels car and bike show.

The Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Rally began unofficially Friday morning with a "media day" launch from Central Wyoming College.

Balloonmeister Pat Newlin said many visiting pilots get to Riverton a day before the official rally, so she invites them to launch a day early.

Registration for the formal event begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Sundowner Station, 1616 N. Federal Blvd., where celebrity pilot Michael Gianetti will speak at 5 p.m.

"He's just an amazing guy," Newlin said. "He's come to our rally for many years, (and) we take our balloons down to him once a year (for) service."

Gianetti, who owns and operates Life Cycle Balloon Adventures in Longmont, Colorado, works the Rendezvous repair station and is also this year's weather officer.

"He knows weather better than any other pilot probably coming to our rally," Newlin said. "He flies every day commercially when the weather permits."

According to Rendezvous organizers, Gianetti got interested in hot air balloons in 1986, when he saw one for the first time and decided to join the Life Cycle crew.

He bought his first balloon in 1991, and by the next year he had earned his private pilot's certificate.

He got his commercial certificate in February 1993 and became chief pilot for Life Cycle one year later. In 1998 he took over business operations there.

Gianetti is also a balloon pilot instructor and has logged more than 2,500 hours in the air over Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming.

Gianetti regularly visits the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico as an official ride pilot, and he has competed in the National Hot Air Balloon Championships in Columbia, Missouri. He also was an event official at an international balloon competition in Saga, Japan, and has flown The Fiesta del Globos in Leon, Mexico.

After Riverton's event, he will remain in Wyoming for Casper's rally next week.

Friday Night Cruise

Newlin said Gianetti's talk is timed and located to allow attendees to watch the 25th Annual Rocky Mountain Rebels Friday Night Cruise, which begins at 6 p.m. from the old Kmart parking lot, 1960 N. Federal Blvd., and processes south to Main Street.

Visitors are invited to admire the rigs on display all night downtown while also enjoying live bands and food vendors. The event features a burn-out contest and the unveiling of a "mystery car."


Twenty balloons are scheduled to launch at 6 a.m. Saturday from the CWC field, including two with special shapes: John Ware of Salt Lake City will be flying the owl-shaped "Whoo'z up?" while Rich Lawhorn of Louisville, Kentucky, will man the egg-shaped "Humpty" balloon.

"We've had the fortune to be able to have a couple special shapes the last few years," Newlin said. "That's not been an everlasting thing - a lot of our rallies are just regular-shaped balloons - but ... we stared trying to incorporate special shapes."

"Humpty" has been to Riverton before, she said, but this is the first year the owl shape has come to town.

"We're excited to have him coming," Newlin said.

She noted that there are other first-time pilots at the Rendezvous this year, too.

"That's always exciting, to introduce our rally to some new pilots," she said, adding, "Others have been here a number of years.

"It's a mixture of old and new."

Local Kiwanians will host a family pancake breakfast beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday at CWC, and tethered balloon rides will be offered beginning at 7 a.m.

The Rugrat Carnival takes place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., also, at CWC.

A balloon glow is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. followed by fireworks at 10 p.m. from Airport Hill.

"Unfortunately it's all weather permitting," Newlin said.

Organizers will meet with pilots at 8 p.m. Saturday to determine whether the glow will be possible, but Newlin said people should come to the field in the evening regardless of the weather.

"If they can't put the balloon (envelopes) up for some reason ... we'll still pull out the baskets and do a candlestick without the envelopes overhead," she said.

The whole thing starts again at 6 a.m. Sunday, minus the balloon glow and fireworks.

More events

The Rocky Mountain Rebels are part of the fun Saturday at CWC as well: A car show is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the south lawn, while auto cross races ongoing in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center parking lot.

Also on Saturday, visitors and residents are invited to enjoy activities and tours 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Heritage Center Museum, 1075 S. Federal Blvd.

Next week the Rendezvous will continue with the Rails to Trails Eighth Annual Music on the River Walk 6-9 p.m. July 21.

The series of events concludes with the Fifth Annual Rotary Derby to Era"duck"ate Polio during the Day in the Park/Eclipse Event Aug. 19-20 at City Park.

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