Balloons fly at the 2022 Great Prosser Balloon Rally

Dozens of balloons take to the sky this weekend at the 33rd Annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally, along with the Harvest Festival.

PROSSER, Wash. — Looking to the skies this weekend, you might just see one of the dozens of hot air balloons sailing during the Great Prosser Balloon Rally.

Scott Shields, one of the pilots, with his 105,000 cubic foot balloon, Gloriously Risen. He went on an adventure Friday with all of the balloons on the first morning of the rally.

“Ballooning has been great for me. I’ve done all kinds of things with it. It’s taken me all over the country, all over the U.S. and Canada, flying balloons,” said Shields.

Shields said he’s been in the ballooning community since the 70s, including sky-floating through more than 40 states. But that’s not all it’s brought him.

“Ballooning brought my wife to me; brought us together at the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede over 40 years ago,” he said.

READ: An absolutely mind-boggling, fantastic, bewildering experience in Walla Walla

He said all of his kids have worked on crews for hot air ballooning, and his youngest son Chase has even pursued his flying license.

Hundreds gather on the Prosser bridges to watch the balloons cross the river over the weekend at sunrise.

Many watched the balloons go by—entranced by the view—and I wondered if the view was better from the ground or the sky.

“Sometimes I’d like to say, on the ground, because I don’t get to do that very often,” said Shields. “But it’s always fun to be up there.”

He said it’s fun to come to a rally without a balloon to see the magic from below. However, it can’t beat the view looking down at Wine Country, wherever you’re at.

“Just the people watching you know the people we flew over today that were waving and cheering and you know just ask if they had coffee ready for us,” said Shields.

Crew member MaryKay Johnston believes a hot air balloon mimics that of the life cycle.

“You’ll see the balloons lying dead on the ground. All of a sudden, this dead balloon will come to life with the air being pumped into it. The hot air will then raise it up to the sky and it will lift off,” Johnston explained. “This balloon will float across the sky like it’s living its life, and once it’s through with its flight, it’ll settle down to the ground and it’ll die again, to hopefully live another day.”

Shields concluded his first flight of the Rally with a traditional storytelling of the origins of hot air ballooning, opening a bottle of champagne and reciting the Balloonist’s Prayer.

May the wind welcome you with softness.

May the sun bless you with his warm hands.

May you fly so high and so well,

God joins you in your laughter.

And may he set you gently back again,

Into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

The Balloon Rally happens in conjunction with the Prosser Harvest Festival, with this year’s kickoff falling perfectly on the first day of Autumn. Events are going on all weekend. Find out more information here.