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Darth Vader to return to Great Reno Balloon Race this year
by Tribune Staff
May 03, 2012 | 1057 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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“Party Panda” is among the balloons that will return for the 31st annual Great Reno Balloon Race, set to take to the skies Sept. 7-9.
RENO — Darth Vader and a fleet of “Imperial Storm troopers” return to the 31st annual Great Reno Balloon Race, the largest free hot-air ballooning event in the world. Set for Sept. 7-9 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, another milestone for this year includes the most special-shaped balloons in a decade. First-time balloons confirmed to date include “Shark,” “Planet Earth,” “Pondemonium” and “Strawberry Heights.” Perennial favorites “Smokey Bear,” “Sushi,” “Party Panda” and “Soccer Ball” also will return.

“How does the largest free hot-air ballooning event in the world, top itself each year? Simple. We bring in more special-shape balloons and offer more,” said Pete Copeland, executive director of the Great Reno Balloon Race. “Right now our goal is to confirm our special shape balloons and determine our final number. It’s been very positive and it looks like for the first time in several years we’ll see more than 100 balloons. We’re also adding more family-focused activities, new concessions and a new layout to enhance the overall festival feel and total experience for the event.”

The 86-foot tall Darth Vader balloon, which depicts the infamous black helmet from the “Star Wars” films, travels from Belgium and is making its second flight at the Great Reno Balloon Race. Exclusive rides for the Darth Vader balloon and balloons during Dawn Patrol will be auctioned off on eBay starting in July.

The “Sushi” and “Shark” balloons will be tethered this year for the Children’s Cabinet, so at-risk kids can experience team building and the joy of a hot-air balloon flight.

For information, call 826-1181 or visit www.renoballoon.com.
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