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Weather Stops Balloon Launches Then Suspends Festival In Plano

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PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - For the second day in a row, weather kept pilots on the ground at the annual Plano Balloon Festival Saturday. Heavy winds stopped the nighttime launches and cloud cover shut down Saturday morning's planned launch.

Then if that weren't enough, a storm moving in forced organizers to suspend the festival early Saturday night.

Even on the ground, the balloons manage to put on a spectacular show. Crowds watched in awe as the balloons inflated and lit themselves from inside like giant light bulbs.

But lightning cut the show short and sent the crowds heading to their cars.

Instead of planned fireworks, Mother Nature lit up the skies that also proved too dangerous just hours earlier. That's when pilots huddled for a briefing on a scheduled 6:00 p.m. launch.

A small black test balloon flew so fast, it was clear the launch, like the morning's, could not go.

"We came crack of dawn this morning. Got up at five, so I'm a little crabby. No I'm alright," spectator Dan Langerman said laughing it off.

Langerman said he couldn't help feel disappointed not seeing the balloons take flight but found consolation all around him.

"We had a turkey leg and a few laughs and all the ribbing and hanging out. It's fun, a lot of nice people, so it's great mixing and mingling you know, it's cool," Langerman said.

For four-year-old Brylee Bateman it was enough just to see the balloons up close.

"My favorite is when I can see the air go in," Bateman said.

Festival director Jo Via said the evening launches have a narrow window because even as the winds start to die down visibility becomes a challenge.

"And so there is that window moving towards sunset, and when we get to 30 minutes before sunset, that window closes," Via said.

Sunday brings two more opportunities for launches, and most in the crowd agree that safety has to come first.

"If you can't go, you can't go, and I get it. It's just fun to gripe," Langerman said.

Organizers will try again Sunday morning and then they have one more chance for a 6:00 p.m. evening launch before the festival closes at 7:00 p.m.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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