ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The Great Forest Park Balloon Race and Glow is this weekend.
If you've never been to either of the events, it's definitely something you'll want to consider.
THE BALLOON GLOW
The Balloon Glow was held Friday at Central Field. Many of the hot air balloons that will participate in Saturday's race were on the field, firing up (literally) their balloons to make them glow in the night sky.
PHOTOS: 2013 Balloon Glow
GREAT FOREST PARK BALLOON RACE
On Saturday, festivities will begin at Central Field at 12 p.m. when the Children's Entertainment area opens.
The School of Rock stages will open at 1 p.m. and a photo contest sponsored by Wehrenberg Theaters and Suburban Journals will begin at 2 p.m.
At 3 p.m. the sky will be filled with Miller Lite skydivers, which will kick off the opening ceremonies at 3:30 p.m.
The race will begin, as always, with the release of the "Hare" (also known as the Energizer bunny balloon) at 4:30 p.m. The approximately 70 "hounds" will be released 15 minutes later and chase the bunny.
SUBMIT: Show us your Balloon Glow photos
Parking is free. The parking lot closest to the launch site is at the Muny Opera parking lot. Street parking is available, but most spots are taken by 2 p.m. Saturday. Traffic in the area also becomes quite heavy inside Forest Park and on streets near the park before, during, and after the Glow and the race.
Handicapped parking is available near the balloon launch site. There's also a nearby drop-off area. Check the PDF map for a more detailed location.
If you're concerned about car break-ins while you visit Central Field, you should know the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department plans to step up patrols Friday and Saturday. They also say you can do your part by not giving criminals the opportunity to steal. In other words, don't leave anything in your vehicle.
PDF: Balloon Race field map
If you want to avoid parking, your best bet is to take the MetroLink to the Central West End stop. After you cross Kingshighway, it's approximately a 15 minute walk to Central Field.
Metro says they will provide shuttle service after the Balloon Race Saturday between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to help alleviate the additional service needs. For more information on this option, visit Metro's website.
NewsChannel 5 will be at the Glow and the race taking photos for KSDK.com photo galleries, but we still want to see your photos! Submit photos from the Glow here and photos from the race here. You can also use the links scattered within this story, tweet them to us @ksdknews or post them on our Facebook page.
PHOTOS: Show us your Balloon Race photos
Get social with the Glow and race by tweeting your photos and experiences using the hashtags #balloonglow and #balloon race. This is a great way to connect with others who are at the event, and to see some amazing photos. You can also Instagram your photos, but be sure to tag us with our handle, KSDKNews, so we can see them!
The race was founded by two balloonists in 1973 and is unique because it is one of the few hot air balloon races that originates from the middle of a major city.
More than 150,000 spectators are expected to watch as 70 balloons take off from Forest Park and fly over the St. Louis area.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race was admitted into the Library of Congress in 2000 as a Local Legacy.
PHOTOS: 2012 Balloon Glow
If weather forces the race to be canceled on Saturday, it will be held Sunday. According to the First Alert Weather Team, inclement weather should not be a problem. Rain is expected Friday morning, with some areas seeing up to one inch. The rain will move out of the area Friday afternoon, making way for a dry Glow on Friday, and nice weather for the race on Saturday.