The pilots have no clue what the “course” looks like until they arrive for their pilot meeting half an hour before the flight.
Following the flights on Friday and Saturday night, pilots will tether their balloons to the field next to Jimmy Jones Shelter for the popular night glow.
Those eager to watch fireworks light up the night sky may have to rethink the best vantage point this year, Dommer said. Fireworks will be moved south of the field.
“You have to have a 300-foot radius,” he said. “If they’re on the west edge, we give up a lot of parking. But we also have a problem with some of the fallout of the fireworks coming down and burning holes in the carnival tents. And they’re not good in the Bark Park because they’re far away and the lights of the carnival wash them out. So we moved them to the old beach area in the other quadrant of the park by the softball fields.”
The best place to watch the fireworks will be right in the balloon field looking south, he said.
“If you normally go to the mall to watch them, you may not have a real good vantage point,” he said. “This helps to bring people into the park, which is where we want people. My guess is from The Beach, Bridge View Center, anywhere on Church Street, [Community First Credit Union] or McDonald’s ... I think you’ll have a pretty good vantage point.”
Dommer said they try to do one event slightly different from the year prior, which is why they chose to move the fireworks this year.
“We’re going to stick our neck out and try something new,” he said.
And attendees won’t have to drive all over town to participate in the packed schedule, since everything is located either in Jimmy Jones Shelter or throughout Ottumwa Park.