The Great Reno Balloon Race is preparing to hold its 38th annual event from September 6 through September 8 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno.

Reno resident, Danny Abbott said "It's something that's pretty unique to Reno, and you don't really get to see it anywhere else. And it's just awesome to know that every single year it's coming."

Before the sun peeks over the mountains, spectators will see the daily iconic Glow Show illuminating the park with a soft warm light, a signal that the event has begun.

During the show, the early morning sky will be decorated by the choreographed glow of upwards of 40 hot-air balloons.

It’s not until dawn, that seven hot-air balloons lift off the ground to perform Dawn Patrol. Only a few pilots in the world can perform this skilled show, stamping this event a must-see for all attendees.

This year, Dawn Patrol will be held all three days of the event. At Mass Ascension, the remaining balloons rise and fill the park with an array of colors and shapes while the sun rises. New this year, Sunday, Sept. 8 will be in recognition of Donor Awareness Day, attendees should wear blue and green in support of this cause.

Abbott said, "It's just kind of a family tradition. Everybody wakes up probably, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning, gets the hot chocolate ready, gets the blankets ready, and it's just awesome watching them at dawn, and just going off into the sunrise."

Spectators will see a variety of special-shaped balloons, including new-to-the-event special shapes: Billy the Kid, Jack the Pirate, Pumpkin, Simba. Returning special shapes include: Darth Vader; Miss Bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell; Wells Fargo’s Cent’r Stage; Smokey Bear, Aaron, an Elvis Tribute Balloon; and Tic Toc, a giant clock.  

This year there will not be a race. Organizers say this is due to the limited target locations. Instead, organizers are making a skills challenge. Pete Copeland the Executive Director of The Great Reno Balloon Race said, "What a skills challenge allows us to do is fly at a safer environment. We're not low at the ground throwing bean bags, we're high above the ground taking photos of targets."

This also comes after a safety evaluation and new FAA rules about all air shows and events.

For many years the pilots in the event have tried to race to a target and drop bean bags as close as possible for prizes. This year there will be no prize money. However, organizers say the pilots are still excited for the new challenge and it might be better for spectators.

"It won't change anything and it may actually enhance the experience, because we'll see balloons a various levels, instead of just low at one level." said Copeland

For more details on the event you can visit

(The Great Reno Balloon Race contributed to this report.)