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OUR VIEW: Hot Air Affair brings a weekend of fun

This weekend's 24th annual Hot Air Affair brings fun and excitement to Hudson as we head into February and the home stretch of our winter. For the past 24 years the event has been a remarkable effort for the group of volunteers that stage the activities each year.

The Hot Air Affair offers a pleasant oasis as we wait for spring and endure the final days of winter's punch. The theme for the 2013 celebration is "Majestic Flyway," a celebration of all things that fly over Hudson -- hot air balloons, fireworks, swans, eagles and other winged creatures.

The Hot Air Affair has become the largest winter balloon rally in the Midwest, and this weekend's event promises to bring plenty of people to our community.

The list of activities continues to grow each year. Some of the more popular events include the balloon launches on Saturday and Sunday mornings and Saturday afternoon. The Saturday night Moon Glow always draws a big crowd. Friday night's torchlight parade, followed by fireworks over Lakefront Park and the St. Croix River, is always a crowd pleaser.

"Majestic Flyway" theme activities are planned for the weekend, including a visit by a live eagle from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Rock Elementary. A Walking Art Show and Sale will be held at numerous locations throughout Hudson with bird and balloon photographs for sale with profits earmarked to help feed the flock of trumpeter swans that winter in Hudson each year.

Some other events include dances, karaoke, bingo, smooshboard competition, pancake breakfasts, ice carving, craft fair, 5K fun run, kite display, silent auction, live music, geocaching, a chili cook-off and much more.

Again this year, the Octagon House will be a part of the weekend events. Visitors will learn about ballooning history, and the local history of Hudson and its early founders from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Be sure to check the complete Hot Air schedule in this week's Star-Observer.

The Hot Air Affair event has a fundraising touch. A Saturday evening bingo at the Hudson House Grand Hotel will raise money for Hudson youth sports programs.

The weekend involves many, many volunteers, some estimates are in the 250 or more range. The event has partnerships for more than 100 businesses. The Hot Air Affair reveals a true sense of community as many, many groups of people from all walks of life come together to ensure that the event is successful and enjoyable.

We congratulate all of the volunteers who make the weekend a success. We also tip our hat to the small group of people who initiated the first Hot Air Affair 24 years ago. Evy Nerbonne, Carla Timmerman, Linda White and John Knutson took an idea and turned it into a successful celebration. The group has been involved in Hot Air Affair since day one and continues to be the force behind the event. It is indeed a tribute to these people who have stuck with this event. It takes great dedication and work to put the celebration together year after year.

Next year the event will observe its 25th year. Some of the organizers encourage new people to get involved. If the Hot Air Affair is going to continue into perpetuity, then new people need to join the committee and take leadership positions.

As for this year, the Hot Air Affair volunteers have been working hard all year. Now we can cash in on their hard work and have fun this weekend.

Have a great time!