PLAINVILLE – Sidelined for three years due to the pandemic, the Plainville Fire Company’s popular hot air balloon festival will return to Norton Park this summer.
Lieutenant George Davey, co-chairman of the 2023 festival, said the fire department expects big crowds for the 36th installment of the family-friendly event, which is slated to take place Aug. 25 and 26.
Usually held over three days, the hot air balloon festival draws thousands of spectators to Norton Park, and serves as the fire company’s biggest fundraiser.
The event usually brings in about $20,000. The funds go to help run the department, but are also donated back to the community.
Town Manager Mike Paulhus said, “The town is proud to partner with the Plainville Fire Company in organizing this festival.”
“This event is very popular and one that showcases the Plainville community as host to one of the largest and last remaining balloon festivals in the northeast,” Paulhus said.
Along with the balloons, the festival features entertainment, various vendors, a car show and a fireworks display. Admission is free.
Back in 2019, Santo Galatioto, former president of the Connecticut Lighter than Air Society, said the pilots and crew who bring their balloons to the festival view it as a way to engage the community and as a reunion to catch up and discuss their unique hobby.
Having so many disparate balloons lifting off from one place creates a unique spectacle as well.
"It's an incredible feeling and it's incredibly beautiful sight to see all of the different patterns on each balloon, because in this part of the country it is rare that you see two balloons that look alike," Galatioto said.