The ascension of dozens of hot air balloons is a Labor Day tradition in Colorado Springs. The 37th Colorado Balloon Classic will be held at Memorial Park again this year, but organizers say it could be the last.
According to the event’s president Patsy Buchwald, the costs associated with hosting the event in Colorado Springs are getting too high.
Buchwald said this year, the Colorado Springs Police Department has decided to close portions of Union Boulevard and Pikes Peak Avenue near the event. CSPD said, “the proposed street closures planned for the Labor Day Balloon Classic are to help ensure pedestrian safety of the citizens enjoying this event. There are hundreds of pedestrians trying to cross both Pikes Peak Ave. and Union Blvd during the Balloon Classic’s activities. In addition, officers are posted at many intersections to monitor and assist people in safely crossing the streets.”
Buchwald said she agrees that safety is of the utmost importance, but believes the manner in which the closures are being executed needs reevaluation.
She said the closures would reduce the money raised for fundraisers from parking along these streets, would cause problems for businesses located in this area and increase traffic through local neighborhoods.
Buchwald also said the cost of the barricades would need to be paid for by the Balloon Classic.
“We don’t have the funding to pay for that, nor do we think actually that we should,” said Buchwald.
This amount of money the city is charging the event has also increased by more than $6,000 over the past two years.
Buchwald said rather than being put out of business because of these new charges, the event may be moved to a different city or state.
“We know we’re good for the economy and we hope that the city, the public and our spectators recognize that and rally around us to help us to stay here. That’s all we’re asking,” said Buchwald.
There will be a community meeting to discuss the road closures on Thursday, June 6. It will be held at the Police Operations Center at 705 S. Nevada Ave in Colorado Springs. The meeting will go from 6 to 8 p.m., and is open to the public.
According to Buchwald, the Balloon Classic will carry on as scheduled this year. She said, the event organizers will need to reevaluate after this year’s classic concludes whether they will return for another year.