Changes made to Pershing Balloon Derby due to COVID-19

Angie Talken
In this 2019 file photo of the Great Pershing Balloon Derby crews volunteering with the Missouri Lottery Balloon help prepare it for launch during the Saturday night flight.

The skies over Linn County will still be filled with hot air balloons, as they have been for the past 44 years for the Great Pershing Balloon Derby over Labor Day weekend. However, the events will be different this year due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, Sherry Techau, treasurer and pilot coordinator for the event said.

“It is our goal to put on a fun, successful event while keeping your health and safety at the forefront of our minds,” a statement on the event’s website, reads.

Changes this year include the cancellation of the Friday Night South Main Night Flame and the Saturday Twin Parks activities. The Myron Peacher Memorial Launch Field will also be closed to spectators, Trachu said she and other board members hope that means more residents may be able to see the balloons as they fly toward Brookfield, weather permitting.

“We will have balloon flights and our Saturday parade down Main Street,” Techau said. “We would be grateful if you would practice social distancing while joining us.”

There will be an estimated 35 pilots at this year’s event.

The tentative event schedule is as follows, Saturday, Sept., 5, 7:15 a.m., flight, 12 p.m., parade on Main Street. Sunday, Sept. 6, 7:15 a.m., and 6 p.m., flights and 7:15 a.m., flight on Monday, Sept. 7.