A glowing tradition

By Hope Smith

Just as darkness sets in on the grassy field Friday night, enthusiastic roars will be heard, the warmth of a strong fire will be felt and the sky will be ablaze with color. Nobody will be burning any couches — this scene also describes the annual Balloon Glow.

The Little Kentucky Derby is offering food, music and unusual activities this week. Students may have heard about the thousands of ping pong balls that are dropped from the top of Patterson Office Tower at noon annually, the outdoor concerts held when the weather starts to get pleasant again or the petting zoo that visits campus yearly. These events, along with the Balloon Glow, are all part of this celebration of springtime in the Bluegrass.

The Derby, hosted by the UK Student Activities Board, has included the Glow for six years now after organizers decided to revive the idea enjoyed on campus in the 1970s.

“There will be a very carnival-esque feel to the event,” Jaclyn Hawkins, SAB director of traditions, said. “There will be 15 hot air balloons that will glow once the sun sets, a petting zoo, various inflatables, a live band, various novelty items and food.”

Local hot air balloonists will cluster together as they set up their balloons in preparation for the lighting. When dusk arrives, they will crank up the flames and showcase balloon designs that span the whole color spectrum to entice viewers.

This year, the Balloon Glow will not only host 15 large balloons, but also a live local band, a petting zoo, temporary tattoo artists and a cookout.

“We have had a great showing in past LKDs (Little Kentucky Derbys) from both the community and UK affiliates,” Hawkins said. “It is definitely an event that ties our campus together with the Lexington community, as it offers entertainment for any individual, regardless of how young or how old.”

The Balloon Glow is a little different than the more recent campus fires. The music should be better, the fires will be more contained, and objects illuminated will hopefully be prettier than a stained, checkered couch.

The balloon glow will take place (weather permitting) at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 15, at the E.S. Goodbarn Field across from Commonwealth Stadium. Admission is free. For more details visit the UK SAB website.