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Balloonists make final Sunday flight to close balloon fest

NATCHEZ — Several hot air balloonists took a final flight on Sunday afternoon to close the 35th annual Natchez Balloon Festival.

The balloonists lifted off from the Natchez Port after a 4 p.m. Sunday pilots meeting at which the balloonists determined the conditions were favorable for the flight.

At least four balloonists flew from the Natchez Port across the Mississippi River and several people gathered in the parking lot of the Hotel Vue to get a good glimpse of the passing balloons.

Mike and Janice Harrigill of Natchez brought two of their grandchildren, Sidney and Maggie Harrigill, to the Vue to watch the balloons and sat on a blanket on the grass.

Mike said they watched the balloons from that location on Saturday, too.

“One went right over our heads,” Mike said, pointing to the blue sky.

Sunday’s official morning flights were canceled due to winds but Sunday afternoon was more suitable for the flight.

“Balloon Fest is my favorite time of year,” said Rachel Buford of Vidalia who drove over to the Vue parking lot to watch the balloons Sunday afternoon.

Reid and Brittany Simpson along with Jan Simpson of Vidalia brought Reid and Brittany’s son, Jock Simpson, over to the Vue to watch the balloons.

“I like the balloons because they are really high,” Jock said.

Saturday’s balloon fest brought thousands of people to the Natchez bluff and throughout downtown despite the COVID-19 pandemic and most people practiced social distancing and mask wearing. Organizers said they were pleased with the turnout.