Look to the Web site for festival balloons

Published 12:24 am Friday, October 19, 2007

As the third weekend in October approaches, all eyes turn skyward.

On the Monday before the Great Mississippi Balloon Race, residents peer out their windows, look to the clouds and do their best to predict if the skies will be clear and the winds will be calm for balloon race weekend.

The weather really becomes the center of conversation in coffee shops, bars and church halls throughout town.

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Then Friday morning comes.

Now, you might be like me and climb out of bed before the sun rises. You could be one of those volunteers or crew members who drive to the Natchez Visitor Reception Center to eat donuts, drink coffee all in anticipation of an early morning flight.

Or you could be like most everyone in the area, who goes through their regular Friday morning routine. You might stop to look out the kitchen window when you go for that extra cup of coffee. Or you might listen for that unmistakable woosh of air of a hot air balloon as you go out to pick up your newspaper.

And if you are lucky you will suddenly see large colorful balloons drift across the sky.

Before I started working for The Democrat, my wife and I would open the back door with the hope of catching a glimpse of one of Natchez’s biggest spectacles.

Many years, we were fortunate enough to see a few balloons scooting across the downtown sky.

Other years, we weren’t so fortunate and either because of bad weather or just not being at the right place at the right time, we would miss it.

To me, seeing the balloons was like winning the lottery or reading tea leaves. It was all about luck.

If we just had a way of knowing if and when and where the balloons were flying, we might have made an effort to wake up earlier and go watch the display.

This year, The Natchez Democrat and natchezdemocrat.com offers that opportunity.

Since we launched our new Website in June, we have been slowly unveiling some of the high tech features that we now make available to readers.

Many of our online fans have signed up and taken advantage of our breaking news alerts.

Some of our sports fans have looked to their cell phones and computer screens to get final Friday night football scores.

And if they happened to miss their favorite football team or just wanted to see their favorite players in action, many online readers logged on to our Web site to catch highlights of our Game of the Week videos.

This weekend we are offering up these high tech features to give you the best of the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

Tired of wondering where the balloons are?

Sign up today at www.natchezdemocrat.com/balloon-race for our balloon race flight updates.

Prior to each scheduled liftoff, natchezdemocrat.com will send a message to subscribers telling them when and where the balloons are flying throughout the weekend. And we will tell it to you direct to your cell phone or computer.

If the weather’s not right for flying, our flight updates will let you know so you can get on with the rest of your day.

And just in case you overslept and missed a balloon flight entirely, you can visit our Web site throughout the weekend to catch video highlights of each day’s events.

All the videos, stories and photo galleries we produce this weekend will remain linked to our homepage until next year’s race, so your friends and family from far away can see what they missed.

So this weekend, don’t just set your eyes skyward.

Look to The Natchez Democrat and natchezdemocrat.com to give you news, photos and video coverage of this year’s Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.


Ben Hillyer is Web editor at the Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.