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Up and Away: Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic

Runs through Sunday, Sept. 1

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Drivers in and around Boise are going to need to be extra-special careful for the next couple of days. No, we're not talking about roadwork, but a far more surefire way to end up in an accident: rubbernecking because there's a giant Mickey Mouse floating against a downtown Boise backdrop.

Few things demand attention like a flotilla of hot air balloons hovering over the city, and Boise's annual celebration of those giant bags of hot air returns Wednesday, Aug. 28-Sunday, Sept. 1, with the 2013 Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.

Every year, approximately 5,000 hot air balloon flights take off from Ann Morrison Park for cruises over the City of Trees beginning at 7:10 a.m each day. On Saturday, Aug. 31, pilots compete in a number of navigational challenges, including hitting targets on the ground--fair warning: You probably want to avoid being in the Porta-Potties on Saturday morning.

The Balloon Classic's most popular event, the Nite Glow, kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30. Spectators are welcome to picnic in the park while local bands The Big WOW Band and the IKE Project offer a live soundtrack. The "glow" part of the evening starts at 8:15 p.m., when balloon pilots turn on the burners under their balloons, lighting up the night in a way that demands a camera in hand.

The public is welcome to come watch the balloons in the park, but organizers ask that all pets be left at home and that spectators refrain from jumping into the baskets. The pilots hate that.