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Our View: Hot Air Affair offers fun this weekend

This weekend's 21st annual Hot Air Affair brings fun and excitement to Hudson as we head into February and the home stretch of winter. The 21th anniversary, of course, is a remarkable milestone for the devoted group of volunteers that stage the event each year.

The Hot Air Affair offers a pleasant oasis as we await spring and endure the final days of winter's punch. The theme in 2010 has a 1960s twist, titled "Peace, Love & Balloons."

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.

Some other events include dances, karaoke, bingo, smooshboard competition, pancake breakfasts, craft fair, kite display, silent auction, benefit concert, geocaching, a chili cook-off -- and much more. Be sure to check the schedule in this week's Star-Observer.

The Hot Air Affair even has a charitable touch. A Saturday evening silent auction and benefit concert at the Best Western Hudson House Inn includes music from the 60s and 70s played by "Concentual Unplugged" with proceeds benefiting TurningPoint. It includes a special appearance and autograph signing by original keyboardist Neal Doughty of REO Speedwagon.

The event also includes two organizations raising money for Haiti earthquake victims. Stillwater Balloon has a special promotion and ShelterBox USA (supported by Hudson Daybreak Rotary) will be at the event.

The weekend involves hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. There is a group of about 50 people heading committees and keeping events on track. But, there is a core group of five people who have been working on this event since day one. Evy Nerbonne, Carla Timmerman, Linda White, John Knutson and Art Doyle continue to be the force behind the Hot Air Affair.

It is indeed a tribute to these people who have stuck with this event as we enter the 21st year -- it takes great dedication and work to put the celebration together year after year. We tip our hat to all the volunteers, but especially the original five.

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!