(KTVI) -- The night sky was lit up in Forest Park, thanks to the annual Balloon Glow. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race takes place Saturday afternoon.
Organizers estimated that the crowd size on Friday night could have reached 80,000. The night was capped off with a fireworks display sponsored by PNC.
Hot air balloon operators fired up the heat, not only to keep the giant balloons inflated, but to also illuminate the balloons as the sun set on Friday night.
Several visitors said a big reason they enjoy the event is because it brings together so many people from different backgrounds for something positive.
The event also included a private dinner that benefited the Missouri Humane Society.
“We really appreciate all the people who continue to support this event said,” said Missouri Humane Society spokeswoman Jean Jay.
Event organizers worried about the rain on Friday, but the skies cleared just in time for the glow.
Kenny Weiner operates the Independence Hot Air Balloon team. He travels to other hot air balloon events in other parts of the country but loves coming to Forest Park.
“When you see a little kid walk with their eyes full of wonder, it’s pretty mind blowing,” said Weiner.
The Balloon Glow begins with an area roped off for the hot air balloon operators. Then once the balloons are illuminated the crowd can walk right up to each one.
“When the balloons are on the ground they’re not officially aircraft,” explained John Marlow, Great Forest Park Balloon Race president. “People can come up, and they can touch the balloons and talk to the pilots.”
The skies over St. Louis will be filled with hot air balloons this weekend for the 41st annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race.
It's one of the biggest family friendly events of the year.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is the largest event on the Fall Calendar of St. Louis, and one of the most beloved traditions in St. Louis and the region. Three generations of families attend each year.
Guests come from all around the country. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race has grown from six balloons, and dozen spectators, to become the largest one day balloon race in the country, and the most well attended sporting event in Missouri.
This year they expect over 80,000 spectators at the Friday evening Balloon Glow, and over 65,000 people at the race on Saturday.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is free and open to everyone. There is no fee to park.
The 41st Annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race kicks off tonight with the Balloon Glow from 7-9 p.m. The Balloon Glow ends with a fireworks finale at 9:15 p.m.
The Balloon Race continues Saturday September 21st, with events for the entire family and ends with the race beginning at 4:30 p.m.
If the race is not held on Saturday because of inclement weather, it will take place Sunday September 22nd.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is the second oldest Balloon Race in the country.
The 41st Annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race
- September 20-21
- Balloon Glow at Central Field Friday 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Friday
- Balloon Race at Central Field Saturday 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, visit: http://greatforestparkballoonrace.com/schedule/