Up and away in Monument Valley
Weekly Edition | March 1st, 2012 | NP Staff
Monument Valley, UT - Last Weekend, Monument Valley was host to the 2nd Balloon Festival, organized by the Navajo Parks and Recreation department. The first balloon festival was held last April.
This year the Balloon Festival featured 20 pilots and ideal flying conditions.
The weekend event kicked off on early Friday morning with balloon launches from inside Monument Valley Park. Activities were planned through-out the day, with perfromances from Joe Tohonnie Jr & Crowndancers, Davis Boys, Radmilla Cody, Todi’Nesh’Zhee Singers, Yaiva, Golden Arrow Club and Latigo Band. They all did an amazing job keeping the crowd entertained . Friday was also designated Youth Day, with children coming to the Park from the various schools that surround Kayenta and Monument Valley.
At the close of each day, the pilots and spectators would assemble at the Monument Valley Welcome Center, off HWY 163, for the Balloon Glow. Pilots and crew use their burners to illuminate the colors and shape of their balloons, lighting up the sky and imaginations alike. The parking lot quickly became crowded, with cars pulling over from HWY 163.
Bryan Hill, a hot air balloon pilot of 14 years, had flown over Monument Valley last year and said Monument Valley is one of his favorite places to fly. Two years ago Bryan Hill took first place at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
“In Monument Valley it’s key to pick a good location to launch” said Bryan Hill. He and crew spent close to an hour looking for an ideal launch site. After finding a safe location, it took about 20 minutes from unloading, prepping to launch. Hot air balloons cruise at 1,000 feet, but are capable of reaching 30,000 feet.
Geri Hongeva, Event Coordinator, had this to say about the weekend event, “The Monument Valley Balloon Event was declared a success by many including myself. As the event coordinator, I wanted the 3 day event to be full of entertainment and activities for the youth. Navajo Parks & Recreation and its sponsors are very happy with the turn-out and the amount of student participation, as well as all the families who enjoyed themselves at our Tribal Park” she also added, ”
We are very ecstatic that our leaders were also in attendance during this event, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, First Lady Martha Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim all made this a priority in their busy schedules. To have the support of the Monument Valley community and our elected leaders is fantastic! We look forward in planning more community events at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.”