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Gallery: Warmer weather welcomes Hot Air Affair

The Ship Rats smoosh board team, made up of Ava Janisch, Brooke Jerrick, Martina Kreattley and Savannah Berg run in the championship race. The Ship Rats won the costume contest, while Noah Gerdts, Megan Fischer, Emily Gerdts and Laura Gerdts took the championship trophy. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 16
Crowds look on as hot air balloon pilots and crews light up their burners at the Field of Fire Saturday night. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 16
GE The winners from the Hot Air Affair pet costume contest at Angel’s Pet World are second place Heather Mckinley with her dog Piper dressed as a Pirate Lady, third place Carli Wagner with her dog Klaus as a Faithful Pirate Steed and first place Kyler Spencer and Bodey Webb with Sophia dressed Captain Pirate Minion. Submitted photo 3 / 16
An air balloonist from Pennsylvania begins folding his balloon to pack up after deciding a flight wasn't safe on Feb. 1. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 16
A new balloon this year to fit the Hot Air Affair theme, Peg Leg Pete the Pirate Parrot hovers above the launch ground Saturday morning. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 16
The Hot Air Affair Ice Fishing Derby was a great success this year thanks to the all the volunteers from the Rod, Gun & Archery Club and St. Croix County Sportsman’s Alliance. The prize winners include from left, Lyla Alters for first fish, Logan Alters for smallest fish, Cody Ganther, Ava Crawford, Cadence Henderlong for biggest fish, Peyton McConaughey for most fish, and Jax McCormack. In the back from left are Old Southern BBQ sponsors Robert Comstock and Joe Seaver. Submitted photo 6 / 16
Hudson first responders rode through the torchlight parade Friday night with lights bright and sirens running. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia7 / 16
A crew prepares a hot air balloon for launch Saturday morning. It was the only mass ascension of the weekend. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia8 / 16
Colorful balloons stand ready to launch as crowds flock to the launch field at EP Rock Elementary Saturday morning. The winds held and nearly all the balloon launched. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia9 / 16
A passenger cheers a successful takeoff Saturday morning at the Hudson Hot Air Affair. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia10 / 16
Hudson Police K-9 Badger soaks up the attention Saturday afternoon ahead of the Hot Air Affair treasure drop. Funds raised from the drop go to the department’s K-9 program. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia11 / 16
With help from some hot air, a balloon takes off from EP Rock Elementary. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia12 / 16
Crews inflate their balloons in preparation of the Saturday launch. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia13 / 16
Young onlookers marveled at the bright flames coming from air balloon baskets riding past in the parade Friday, Feb. 1. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia14 / 16
Nancy Szott is the big winner of the Hot Air Affair chili cook-off, sponsored by Big Guys BBQ, taking first place in all three categories (Hot & Tasty, Best Chili and Best Presentation) for her Badger 5 Bean Chili. Submitted photo15 / 16
Logan and Asher Asleson meet Captain Jack Sparrow Saturday afternoon at the Hot Air Affair warming station. Captain Jack’s appearance helped bring home the year’s pirate theme. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia. 16 / 16

Below freezing temps ended just in time for the 30th annual Hot Air Affair in Hudson the weekend of Feb. 1.

The torchlight parade lit up Second Street in downtown Hudson Friday night.

Low winds allowed for a mass ascension Saturday morning, with nearly all the balloons taking off at the EP Rock Elementary launch field.

Saturday night's Field of Fire event brought the heat, with pilots and crew lighting up the flames of their hot air balloons.

Events continued throughout the weekend with smoosh boarding, kite flying, a treasure drop,

Captain Jack meet and greet, a chili cook-off and more.

Local residents and visitors won many participatory events. Here are some of the winners:

Pirates' Treasure Drop, sponsored by Image House. All proceeds to the Hudson Police Department Canine Unit:

• First place: Cheryl Gender, Minnetonka, Minn.

• Second place: Kris Munson, Clayton

• Third place: Ray Griffith, Minnetonka, Minn.

Landowner prize for allowing hot air balloon to land on private property:

• John See who lives on Stagecoach Trail North, Hudson

• Pilot: Chris Keefe, Cross Plains

Hot Air Affair School Presentations with Pilots:

• Glenn O'Connell, Gilberts, Il Trinity Academy, Hudson

• Mark Naber, Big Bend, St. Croix Central Elementary, Roberts

• Pete Asp, Sullivan, Afton/Lakeland Elementary, Lakeland, Minn.

• Ken Walter, Waukesha, E.P. Rock Elementary, Hudson

• Glenn O'Connell, Gilberts, Il Westside Elementary, River Falls

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

(651) 301-7858
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