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 In Culture, Guide

Balloon Race By the Numbers


With the 40th anniversary of the Great Forest Park Balloon Race upon us, Sept. 14-16, it’s the perfect time to expand your knowledge and explore the numbers behind one of St. Louis’ most popular fall events.

Average number of people who gather to watch the race each year.

Number of miles last year’s winner, Larry Owen, traveled. The longest race took place in 1975, when the winner landed in O’Fallon, IL—about 25 miles away. For the shortest race ever, in 1979, the winner traveled only 200 yards.

Approximate number of countries with hot air balloon races and festivals. Of the hundreds of races around the US, the Great Forest Park Balloon Race is the 2nd oldest in the country and the only one to take off in the middle of a metropolitan area.

The maximum number of people who can fit into a balloon basket—depending on the size.

Number of balloon race organizers— John Marlow, Ted Staley and Dan Schettler—who boast at least one victory in the history of the race. The fourth, John Schaumburg, missed out on a win in 1983 by only 2 feet.

The most hot air balloons involved in a single race at Forest Park. There are around 50 companies and 20 private entries involved this year.

Number of AA batteries that could fit inside the infamous Energizer Bunny Hot “Hare” Balloon. As the largest balloon in the country—towering 15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty—its envelope (the fabric portion) is 5,000 yards, or 60 feet wide. The most memorable among fans, it’s the balloon all of the racers follow to win the race.



Balloon Race

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race


Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Great Forest Park Balloon Race, Inc.

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