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Plenty to celebrate at balloon race

After much planning and preparation, Natchez’s single biggest weekend will kick off today as dozens of hot-air balloonists take to the skies — if Mother Nature allows it.

Of course, the balloons are the stars of the show, but plenty of other cool headliners also appear, from the great music acts to the carnival rides and festival food.

But what’s most special about the balloon race is the amazing band of volunteers who work hard to make sure everything goes off without a hitch — at least a hitch that can be controlled, so don’t blame them if flying conditions are poor.

Dozens and dozens of volunteers will help make sure the gates are manned, the balloonists are safe and sound after every flight and the festival goers are properly entertained.

The balloon race draws thousands and thousands to Natchez, and that’s a very good thing. The balloon race is about good times and fun, but it’s also about money — making money for non-profits.

Proceeds from the event go to the Historic Natchez Foundation, a group that aims to preserve and protect some of the things that make Natchez so unique — its historic properties.

It’s an amazingly good organization that has helped Natchez tremendously through the years and continues to do so.

But beyond the Historic Natchez Foundation, loads of other businesses benefit from out-of-town guests who shop in their stores, eat and drink in their establishments and buy gas and other goods while in Natchez.

Balloon race is truly a special time in Natchez, so head out to the festival grounds starting with tonight’s balloon glow, have a good time and let’s all pray for good flying weather.