A week of hot air balloon events will draw dozens of racers and enthusiasts to East Texas this week. The colorful balloons are being spotted over Longview today.
The events include the 36th Great Texas Balloon Race and, in its second year in Longview, the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship. According to the Longview News Journal, 76 pilots are set to compete in both races this week and that will mean an infusion of tourism dollars for East Texas cities.
The organizing board of the Great Texas Balloon Race is working with LeTourneau University researchers to calculate the economic impact of the event on East Texas. Race founder Bill Bussey, a Longview dentist, said nearly 500 volunteers helped to put on this year's race. The Great Texas Balloon Race will host the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship in Longview for the next two years. Bussey says the board is considering bidding for the 2016 World Hot Air Balloon Championship.