How weather and Trump security will affect QuickChek Festival of Ballooning
READINGTON — With a less-than-perfect forecast for this weekend, the Quick Chek Festival of Ballooning will do everything they can to keep everything on schedule.
"We know people are coming from all over and we want to have the biggest party of the summer," spokesman Russ Mensch told New Jersey 101.5.
"We're on until we're not. We make every effort to have balloon activity for all of the balloon launches morning and evening. The best thing to do is follow the festival online at balloonfestival.com and its social media," Mensch said. The festival will also keep their hotline updated at 800-HOT-AIR9.
Mensch said there is some flexibility to the balloon launch schedule but safety is the festival's top priority.
The 35th annual festival starts on Friday at 1 p.m. and runs through Sunday evening. The balloons are scheduled to go up at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Rain and thunderstorms caused some of the balloon launches to be cancelled in 2016. The Festival closed early on the final day of the Festival due to muddy field conditions. There was confusion over tickets and refunds along with disappointment from ticket holders who drove long distances to attend the festival at Solberg Airport.
Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow is calling for rain on Friday and Saturday when it could be the heaviest. He is still studying the track of a low pressure that could stall New Jersey. Winds could also gust as high as 40 mph.
One issue the festival will not have to worry about is President Donald Trump, whose golf club is in nearby Bedminster. Trump is not expected to be at the club this weekend.
Trump is expected to arrive on Aug. 3 for an extended stay until Aug. 20.
The Festival's executive producer, Howard Freeman, said organizers have met with the Secret Service three times and they've been told they'll be able to fly the balloons, even if the president was at his course about 7 miles away.
If Trump were in town, the balloon pilots and riders would go through security screening run by the Transportation Security Administration and Secret Service, Freeman said. Some of the balloons also would carry transponders so that they could be tracked to make sure they're not posing a threat.
While pilots have landed their balloons on the golf course in years past, Freeman said it will be considered off-limits this year, whether Trump is there or not.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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