Grayslake expects to be full of hot air Aug. 24.
That's when the village's first hot-air balloon festival is planned for Central Park. Grayslake Trustee Bruce Bassett championed the idea, which his village board colleagues have agreed is worth funding with $5,000 to cover propane for the participants and miscellaneous expenses.
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"We've been laying the groundwork since January," Bassett said Monday. "The balloonists who do this are hobbyists who have jobs and other lives."
Bassett said he's collaborating on the free festival with Pat Klemens, a longtime Grayslake resident and retired hot-air balloonist, as well as the police department, Grayslake Area Park District and the local chamber of commerce. Considering it'll be the inaugural fest, he said, the goal is to be small but successful.
"Another thing that makes this feasible is the large amount of open land around Grayslake," he said.
Plans call for a limit of six hot-air balloons that will be inflated at Central Park and take off on the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 24. It will start with a fox-and-hounds contest.
With a five- to 10-minute start, the fox balloon must find a place to land within three or four miles of Central Park. "Hounds" will compete to land closest to the fox.
Bassett said some entertainment, live music and limited food vendors will be at Central Park while the balloons are flying.
"We want this to be something for the folks to do other than chase the balloons," he said.
Crews will retrieve the balloons and return them to Central Park. At night, visitors will get to view the roughly 7-story balloons while tied down and internally illuminated by burners.
Bassett cautioned the Grayslake balloon fest may be canceled at the last minute due to adverse weather. He said an alternate date will not be available.
West suburban Lisle has had the granddaddy of area hot-air balloon festivals with Eyes to the Skies. It was held for the 30th consecutive year over the Fourth of July holiday in 2012.