As the Thurston Classic event makes its return to Meadville, committee officials said they are excited to fill the sky with hot air balloons.

“To put on a show for the families, that’s the best part of it. We love flying, we love competing in our competitions, but putting on a show for the crowd and having the night like we did last night was just spectacular,” said Alex Jonard, Balloon Meister.

Spectators can expect to see a new balloon in the sky that is larger than life and a favorite among children.

“We have the seahorse this year. It’s a special attraction and it’s about 120 feet tall. It’s about twice as tall as my system right now and the kids just love it,” Jonard said.

Although the balloons in the sky are the end goal of the event, there are preparations that go into launching them.

“We look at all the cables that connect to the basket when we start to inflate. I’m always looking up inside the balloon to make sure there’s none of the wires and stuff inside the balloon tangles up or anything like that or if there might be a little rip or tear on the mouth or anywhere up through there,” said Dennis Raybuck, 2022 Thurston Classic crew member.

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The tribute begins at 6 p.m. June 17 at the Allegheny College Robertson Athletic Complex.