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An epic 2022 Great Wellsville Balloon Rally comes to a picture perfect ending


This picture of Sunday morning at Island Park says it all

By Andrew Harris, photo by Mel Hunt

Five of the five balloon launches, ideal weather, and a huge crowd in Wellsville will make this a rally to remember. The post-pandemic revival of the only free mass balloon festival in the northeast part of the country was idyllic in so many ways.

The images from Island Park and surrounding hillsides were a stunning sight after two years without. It didn’t just bring back memories, these scenes had a brand new shiny look to them. No one was taking the display of color, sound, and spectacle for granted.

Balloon Rally chair emeritus Brad Thompson was in his glory on Saturday night even after breaking the news to the crowd that the launch would be at the “balloonists discretion.” Most crews decided not to fly due to potentially dangerous wind gusts, but a few did take off and head toward Rauber Hill. Thompson made sure to celebrate that, “It may not have been a full launch but we are still 4/4 !”

The weather didn’t stop most balloonists from staying for a second great “afterglow.” Hundreds of young kids enjoyed a very rare sight while enjoying one last piece of fried dough or fresh lemonade.

Then a brilliant fireworks show soon began, creating some fantastic images reflecting off the Genesee river. Our favorite local photographer captured the moment perfectly:

Early morning balloon lovers were treated to a fifth launch, on a beautiful Sunday morning. Social media was flooded with images and with nearly unanimous agreement with our friend Wanda Dean’s sentiment:

“The Balloons this morning were amazing.”

The whole weekend was amazing and Wellsville should be proud to be able to show off with such a display and experience. We should also be very thankful for the volunteers who make this happen. The handful of dedicated committee members who have produced this rally for years on end are also quite amazing.

The countdown to Balloon Rally 2023 has already started, contact the committee today and lend your hand to keeping this important Wellsville tradition alive and successful.

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