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Hudson Hot Air Affair: Let the fun begin!

The Hudson Hot Air Affair balloon launches offer a colorful show for spectators. Visit HudsonHotAirAffair.com/Balloons to learn about the 35+balloons and pilots scheduled to attend 30th annual Hot Air Affair. Submitted photo

The Hudson Hot Air Affair kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, with the Hot Air Affair Torchlight Parade. The parade starts at the Wells Fargo parking lot and travels down Second Street, turning down Walnut Street and ends at the Hudson Arch. It may be short, but the parade is packed full of fun. With blasts of flames from the balloon units to help warm the crowd, spectators will see marching kazoo bands and "Pirates Fly'n the Croix-ribbean" themed parade units. Immediately after the parade there is a fireworks display at Lakefront Park sponsored by Andersen Corporation.

This is our 30th annual Hot Air Affair, a family friendly winter festival and hot air balloon rally which is a weekend packed full of activities. WESTconsin Credit Union returns as the corporate sponsor. The hot air balloons are the highlight of the event, offering a colorful show with mass ascension flights with more than 35 hot air balloons (weather permitting). All of the launches are at E.P. Rock School at 340 13th St. S., on the Hill in Hudson.

The first launch is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2 at sunrise (7:35 a.m.) There is an afternoon launch at 3 p.m. This is an optional flight if the morning flight is launched or a mass ascension if the morning flight was canceled. The final launch is set for Sunday, Feb. 3 at 7:35 a.m.

One of the most spectacular sights at Hot Air Affair is the Moon Glow on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. at E.P. Rock School. The balloons inflate and glow like colorful lanterns in the night. In the event of windy weather, this event becomes a Field of Fire as the pilots use their burners to light up the sky with flames.

Don't miss the Up, Up & Away 5K Fun Run/Walk at 10 a.m. at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church. Registration starts at 9 a.m. Door prizes, race shirt and refreshments.

The Smoosh Board Competition starts at 1 p.m. at E.P. Rock School. Join us for Hot Air Affair's wackiest winter sport with four people on the same smoosh boards. Call 715-386-1155 to register your team now.

There are a lot of opportunities to come in out of the cold during Hot Air Affair. From 7 a.m. to noon the Masonic Temple will hold its annual pancake breakfast at 209 Locust St. The Hot Air Affair Marketplace and Craft Fair is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday with crafts and souvenir selection. Local non-profit groups will have hot food and drinks available for purchase in the cafeteria. The Octagon House Museum at 1004 Third St. will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for guided tours with a special balloon display (admission).

There is a Warm Up Station (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) in the school cafeteria which will have special events, music, dance performances and fun. At 2 p.m. there is a meet and greet with Pirate Captain Jack. Little mateys have fun with the pirate theme—bring your cameras to capture a pirate memory.

Hot Air Affair also offers opportunities to have fun while you give back to local community organizations with different fundraising events.

The Hudson Boosters will hold their annual HAA Bingo Fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 2-4:30 p.m. and then again from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Hudson House Grand Hotel. Enjoy a fun-filled evening of bingo and raise money for youth sports programs in Hudson.

Hot Air Affair is hosting a Pirate's Treasure Drop fundraiser for the Hudson Police Canine Program. Make a donation for a chance to win a prize of $100, $50 and $25. Watch the treasure drop on Saturday at 2 p.m. at EP Rock School.

New this year on Saturday evening is a Swashbuckler's Soirée at 7 p.m. at Madison Avenue Wine & Spirits, 1510 Swasey St. Caribbean-inspired food, drink offerings and live music. Come meet Captain Jack!

Sunday, Feb. 3 starts with a sunrise balloon launch. At 11 a.m. there is a Chili Cook Off at Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse, 1237 Highway 35 N. Angel's Pet World has a Pirates Fly'n the Croix-ribbean Pet Contest at 1 p.m. The annual Lake Mallalieu Kids Ice Fishing Derby is 2-4 p.m. with mentors, loaner equipment, a fire and hot cocoa.

The Hot Air Affair brochures with event details are available at local businesses and the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau office. Visit www.HudsonHotAirAffair.com for details and a complete event schedule. The Hot Air Affair Facebook page has the latest news and pictures of HAA events.

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