Balloon organizer Marilyn Branch is thrilled at this new pairing.
“With the two of us together,” said Branch of Balloon and Jazz, “it’s going to be a big ticket for early season.
“Paul and I have been working to put this together since the beginning of September,” she added, referring to longtime Jazz Impresario Paul Machado, and to Telluride’s labyrinthine summer festival calendar with its sought-after weekend slots.
With Jazz in Town Park wrapping up at sunset, and with a record 21 balloons planning for Saturday-Sunday morning takeoffs (the most-ever in the festival’s history), this year’s Saturday-night Balloon Glow is primed to be perfect.
That’s thanks in part to the fact that the Chico State Marching Jazz Band will be part of the Saturday night festivities, march through the Glow – traditionally Telluride’s first nod to summer, Branch observed, “with everybody out on the street for the first time with all the kids and strollers” – that stretches, this year, all the way from Aspen to Willow streets.
Branch expects as many as 2,500 people at the Balloon Glow, in which maybe half of the balloonists are expected to participate. Glow-ability, she says, depends “on the color of the balloon,” with “yellows, oranges, pinks, and the lighter reds” lighting up best. “Blue, and red by itself,” she elaborates, “don’t glow very well.”
In the midst of Thursday’s gloomy weather, Branch was ebullient. “This weather is blowing over,” she said, “and it’s going to be in the 70s tomorrow” and throughout the weekend, she predicted.
And so, while Jazz celebrants sleep in, Branch’s balloonists will be gathering in Telluride Town Park Saturday and Sunday for crack-of-dawn takeoffs, following the 6:15 a.m. pilot briefings. A balloon will be tethered both mornings, she added, “for people with small children and other people who don’t want to fly” to have an up-in-the-air experience of their own, starting at around 7:30 a.m.
Champagne for this year’s Telluride Balloon Festival – an integral component, Branch explained, of first-time flight ceremonies – was donated by Barefoot Wine and Bubbly; more than 80 percent of local businesses, she added have donated goods, services and prizes as well.