balloon-9

Countdown in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GLOWWWWWWW.

So, it’s senior year and you finally made it to the balloon race, a Reno tradition that you’ve failed to attend three years in a row because you’ve been too lazy or too drunk on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday consecutively.

There are two strategies that you could’ve employed to make it happen this year. Did you go to bed early and wake up at 5 a.m.? Or did you pull an all-nighter and go straight from Sloves’ set at 1 Up? I’d guess the latter. Either way you were one of the hundreds of tired zombie-monsters stumbling down Washington Street at way too early in the morning to watch hot air balloons “race” each other. Do the actual races happen earlier in the week? Will we ever know?

If you’re like me and nothing productive can be done at 5 a.m., then the GRBR was probably a bit of a blur. It was dark, there was a lot of people in pajamas slowly shuffling through a park, and there was a DJ who played music that sounded something like a mashup of poor Journey cover band music meets elevator tunes.

But eventually, if you stuck it out long enough, there was a beautiful sunrise and hot-air balloons ascended into the heavens right in front of your eyes. Was it worth it? That Insta-pic lighting was pretty amazing. If you happen to be the Moaning Myrtle that won the Harry Potter-themed costume contest, then hell yeah it was worth it.

If the balloon race was confusing for you like it is for me every year, I’ll bet you have a lot of questions, for example, which of the two Moaning Myrtles won the Harry Potter-themed costume contest? Did I pay an entrance fee to get into the event? Does Tim Taylor, the world’s greatest balloonist, look like the wizard from The Wizard of Oz (he was the ISIS-fighting captain of the American flag balloon)? Why wasn’t there a Harambe balloon this year? How are the balloonists of the Dawn Patrol selected? Are they like the Top Gun of hot-air balloon pilots? It’s 8 a.m. and the event is over, do I keep drinking or go to sleep? What part of this is actually a race? Does the Great Reno Balloon Race Team have permission to use the “Lord of the Rings” soundtrack? Is this event the reason Rancho San Rafael isn’t a dog park anymore? Is anyone selling hot air balloon rides or do we all just have to watch? Which terrorist organization was flying the drones and which terrorist organization was vaping? How many children did I step on to get to the middle of the field? This many people live in Reno? Was the GRBR a real thing or just a weird dream? These are the questions that force thousands of UNR super-seniors to stay in school for one more year and attend one more Great Reno Balloon Race.

I don’t have answers to any of these questions. I don’t know if anyone has answers. I guess we’ll just have to go again next year. It’s not like I’m graduating!

Now in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Twinkle twinkle everybody.

J.P. Prewitt studies philosophy. He can be reached at alexandraschultz@unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.