2013 Great Reno Balloon Race Brings Big Business To Area - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

2013 Great Reno Balloon Race Brings Big Business To Area

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Sunday was the final day for the 32nd annual Great Reno Balloon Race this weekend, and organizers of the three day event say the crowds have been huge.

People packed Rancho San Rafael Park each day before sunrise for the Glow Shows, Dawn Patrols and the Mass Ascension Launch.

"It's awesome to see the hot-air balloons when you're standing down on the field, and you see them go up over your head," said Julie Noker of Beckwourth, California. "It's just an experience I love."

It's an event that organizers say brings an estimated few million dollars to our area each year. It's no surprise, seeing as how it brings in people from all over the world.

"The last time we did a survey, it's about 50-50 from out-of-towners and locals," said Pilar Aldecoaotalora, President of the Great Reno Balloon Race. "We do thank everyone for their support, both the out-of-towners and the locals. This is also a year where we have every single balloon with a sponsor."

Vendors like My Favorite Muffin And Bagel Cafe see a steady stream of business from people who need a snack or a caffeine jolt in those early hours.

"For this location, it's quick and easy -- coffee, muffins and bagels, hot cocoa," said Jim Zbella, owner of three My Favorite Muffin And Bagel Cafe shops in Reno and Sparks. "They can just grab something and go get to what they're going to do."

Official event merchandise sales were also high this year.

"I know yesterday, they pretty much ran out of everything," Aldecoaotalora said. "People are very receptive to the merchandise we have in there."

"I like the pins," Noker said. "I usually try to get a pin every year I come. I got coffee cups, of course, and a hat for their 25th anniversary. So, I like to get something momentous."

While the vendors at Rancho San Rafael Park do well, nearby businesses like Archie's Giant Hamburgers And Breakfast get a lot of customers, especially during breakfast-time.

"Yesterday, we had balloon races and a home football game," said Ashlee Hachquet, a server at Archie's. "So, pretty much all-hands-on-deck. Anybody who works here is working and working long hours, but we're happy to do it because it's what we love to do. We see the customers happy and enjoying the food, and everyone makes good money."

On a side note, I asked a number of people what their favorite balloons were this year, and most said the Kissing Fish, and of course, Spider Pig!

Written by Adam Varahachaikol
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