Dave Sweeney will report to Tigard for hot-air balloon launches
A platoon of hot-air balloons took to the skies Saturday morining during Tigard's Festival of Balloons, which kicked off bright and early Friday morning.
The annual community celebration relies on nice weather for people to enjoy the rides, booths and of course the morning balloon launches and has enlisted the help of a local meteorologist to ensure the sun shines throughout the weekend.
Dave Sweeney, the former chief meteorologist for KOIN 6 News, is emceeing the weekend's morning balloon launches and festivities, which continue through Sunday. Sweeney, who lives in Sherwood, has years of experience working with hot-air balloon rallies, but has never attended Tigards morning balloon launches.
Tigards Festival of Balloons
Where: Cook Park, 17005 S.W. 92nd Ave.
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Hours: Balloons launch at 5:45 a.m., with rides, live music and other events throughout the day and into the evening.
How Much: $5 gate admission
Tickets: Visit tigardballoon.org
Parking: $5 at Tigard High School Swim Center, 8680 S.W. Durham Road
Ive never been to the Tigard festival before, Ive always missed it, he said. The one time I was able to go, it was so popular I couldnt find a place to park and had to go home.
Sweeney has a soft spot for balloons. In the TV business, where weathermen often move from market to market, Sweeney would make sure to find a local hot-air balloon festival that he could participate in, usually as an emcee.
Balloons are one of those things that I have always thought were cool and wanted to do, Sweeney said. I had it on my bucket list that I wanted to take a hot-air balloon ride.
Sweeney will be on site starting at about 5 a.m., getting ready for the morning balloon launches, which begin at 5:45.
Love of the sport
Sweeney's passion for the sport, and his respect for pilots, is obvious.
Its so cool to fly, Sweeney said. When youre up there, the only way you know the winds are shifting is to feel it on your face. Then, you just go along with the breeze. When were just drifting, I like to sit on the edge of the basket, hold on and just watch. It's very peaceful.
Sweeney has emceed hot-air balloon rallies in Lewiston, Idaho; Eugene; Washington, D.C.; Colorado and has been the emcee for many years at Albanys Northwest Art and Air Festival each summer.
This one time, I was flying with a guy in Colorado, and a buddy of his was staying in a nearby condo. We flew the balloon over and floated about three stories up, right outside his back patio, and just sat there and carried on a conversation, he said. It was so cool.
When Sweeney first moved to Portland in the early 2000s, he offered to emcee the Tigard festival, but said it never worked out, until now.
Despite his admiration of the sport, Sweeney said his talents are best served on the ground as an emcee and weatherman, and not as a pilot.
(Owning a balloon) is way too much work, he said, laughing.
Tigards festival is smaller than other festivals Sweeney has hosted in Albany and Colorado, but whether its five or 50 balloons, Sweeney said, balloon rallies are a ton of fun.
I love it, he said. Its a lot of fun.
Hot-air balloons need calm wilds and mild weather to fly. Too much wind or rain and the festival will scrap the morning launch, Sweeney said.
This weekends forecast? Sunny and bright.
Want to take a hot-balloon ride yourself? Pilots won't be taking anyone up with them during the morning launches, but the festival will be offering free tethered rides each morning, beginning at 6:15.