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Tunica Balloon Bash

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So, a bunch of guys from Mississippi are sitting around wondering what to do. The only sensible thing is to learn to fly hot-air balloons, and so they did.

"We all got together and learned to fly," says Larry Young, one of the 40 or so competitors in this weekend's inaugural Tunica Balloon Bash, a hot-air balloon challenge sponsored by Travel Tunica. "It's all been for fun."

Young has ballooned to 10,000 feet — so high that it's "really not fun" — and his second solo ride found him dangling from a building. But his enthusiasm endures.

Visitors to the Bash will have the opportunity to ride in a balloon, albeit a tethered one, to a height of 50 feet. Just come by the Fitz, Gold Strike, Hollywood, and Horseshoe casinos. Rides are first come, first served with long lines expected. And, no, you may not go to 10,000 feet.

Also of note is the balloon glow, an evening lighting of the balloons. This visual wonder is a tradition at ballooning competitions in which all competitors fill their vessels and light up the night with the glow of the propane gas torches. The balloons will glow from 5 to 6 p.m. in the parking lots of the Fitz, Gold Strike, Hollywood, and Horseshoe casinos.

Young and other balloonists will compete for more than $12,000 in cash and prizes in the Balloon Federation of America-sanctioned event.

"It's called sport flying. You learn to fly better in competition. It makes you keener about manipulating the balloon. If you don't push yourself, you don't get better," Young says. "Just don't cross the river. It takes your recovery team a lot longer to find you."

The competition is from 7 to 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings with balloon glows and tethered rides scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings.

1st Annual Tunica Balloon Bash, the casinos of tunica, Mississippi, Friday-Sunday, November 9th-11th.

Visit tunicatravel.com for more information.

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