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VIDEO: Hot air balloons light up Glow Plaza, plan return to Reno in September


By Abby Ocampo

After a year hiatus, the Great Reno Balloon Race is back for 2021 to celebrate its 40th year.

“We’re excited to be flying for our 40th year– 40 years of flying free in Nevada,” said Pete Copeland, executive director for the Great Reno Balloon Race.

Copeland said the theme this year honors first responders and frontline workers. The event has also partnered with Renown for a contest to provide VIP Balloon Race experiences for frontline workers. 

The Great Reno Balloon Race is the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event. Annually, it brings over 120,000 spectators to watch the launch of around 100 balloons at Rancho San Rafael Park.

This year also marks the event’s 30th anniversary partnering with the Washoe County School District. Their tissue paper launch program, which reaches over 1,000 local fifth grade students a year, will make a return to continue support for children in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math).

“We’re just happy to be back,” Copeland said.

The event is scheduled for Sept. 10-12. A schedule of events is online at https://renoballoon.com/

The Glow Plaza

The Balloon Race announcement was planned in conjunction with the ribbon cutting ceremony for Reno’s newest outdoor event and entertainment venue, the Glow Plaza.

Located on Fourth Street, the Glow Plaza is in the middle of what developer Jacobs Entertainment calls the Neon Line. It runs along Fourth Street from Center Street to Keystone Avenue. 

Local city and county officials helped cut the ribbon at The Glow Plaza on July 9, 2021 in Reno, Nev. Image: Abby Ocampo / This Is Reno

“To think about entertainment, great food and lots of fun on West Fourth Street when no one ever thought that was possible…This area has so much history, culture and uniqueness to it,” said Jonathan Boulware, the vice president of Nevada operations at Jacobs Entertainment.

Boulware talked briefly of the deep rooted history of West Fourth Street, including evolving from Highway 40, and hosting important establishments throughout history including, the Chapel of the Bells drive-through wedding chapel.

 “It’s just a small taste of what’s to come,” said Boulware.

The Glow Plaza will host free weekly concerts, food truck vendors and other open events into mid-September. 

Event Dates:

  • July 16-17: Jason King Band
  • July 23-24: Brodie Stewart Band
  • July 30-31: New Wave Crave Band
  • Aug 6-7: The 60’s Summer of Love
  • Aug 13-14: American Mile
  • Aug 20: Jason King Band
  • Aug 21: New Wave Crave
  • Aug 27-28: Maxx Cabello Jr
  • Sep 3-4: Greg Golden Band
  • Sep 10-11: Cripple Creek Band
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