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Remember, race benefits good causes

We hope you looked up as you picked up your newspaper this morning. Had you, you might have seen a beautiful site — hot-air balloons overhead.

The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race kicked off this morning — if the weather allowed it to — and will continue through Sunday afternoon.

The morning races are, no doubt, the best time to see the balloons up close. Early risers are rewarded by the privilege of watching dozens of balloons inflate and glide through the air.

But the party starts in the afternoons and evenings when the festival gates open and the music starts playing.

Though it often seems forgotten, the balloon race is a fundraiser.

The event raises money for the Historic Natchez Foundation and a number of local non-profits, including the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, the Natchez Festival of Music, the Natchez Association of Afro-American History and the Vidalia Women’s Club.

Those race donations come from the ticket price you pay to enter the festival grounds at the Rosalie Bicentennial Gardens and from the goodies you buy once you enter.

Much of balloon race can be enjoyed for free from outside the festival gates, but if you don’t buy tickets, the event doesn’t raise money.

So keep that in mind this weekend as you enjoy our city’s greatest weekend. Ticket prices aren’t outrageous considering what you get. If you are able, pay the price and make sure the balloons keep flying and non-profits keep benefiting.