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Balloons take flight over Natchez on Saturday afternoon

NATCHEZ — Hot air balloons were able to take to the skies Saturday afternoon during the Natchez Balloon Festival after high winds had grounded the balloons throughout Saturday morning.

“We finally got to see the balloons,” said Dianne Lucas, who drove to Natchez from Sumrall Friday with family members Billy and Dianne Whitehead and Hollie Cox.

Lucas said this was her first visit to Natchez and she enjoyed seeing the sites, especially Under the Hill and Fat Mamas Tamales during the visit.

“We will come back,” Lucas said as the group stood on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River with several hot air balloons flying over the river.

Hundreds of tourists lined the bluff’s edge taking pictures of the balloons and selfies with the balloons behind them.

Daniel Carson and his fiancé Johanna Wayland-Smith drove to Natchez from Jackson for the day to see the balloons.

“We’ll go out to eat,” Carson said of their plans before driving back to Jackson later Saturday night.

A group of musicians presented a free music concert at the gazebo on Saturday afternoon and crowds of people gathered around the gazebo to hear the music of YZ Ealy as balloons floated overhead.

Teunnison “T” Lea of Brookhaven did a funky dance on the lawn to Ealy’s blues.

“We come here every year,” Lea said, adding that he and his wife, Johnnie, have a house in Natchez.

Up Franklin Street, a group of musicians performed in an ally next to Natchez Manor, and owner James Berry said he had good crowds at the event throughout the day.

“They are coming down from the bluff between balloon events,” Berry said during a break between sets when most visitors were at the bluff watching the balloons. “They will be back when the music starts back.”

Berry said he held the event to show people there were other things to do on that side of town and that he had approximately 80 to 90 visitors by 5 p.m. and the music lasted until 11 p.m. Saturday.

Later in the night balloon glows were presented at areas throughout Natchez including Bluff Park, Grassy lot on Broadway between Bontura Alley and State Street,  City parking lot on Commerce St. behind the Council Chambers, Natchez Mall, Monmouth, Magnolia Bluffs Casino, Magnolia Bluffs Hotel, Natchez Under-the-Hill, Pedro’s, Natchez High School, Vidalia Riverfront, Concordia Bank on Highway 61 North.