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Great Forest Park Balloon Race is canceled, but organizers still plan a September launch

Great Forest Park Balloon Race is canceled, but organizers still plan a September launch

47th Great Forest Park Balloon Race

Bethany Coffey, a crew member with balloon pilot Scott Wooge, fires the team's race craft sponsored by Purina Pro Plan on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, before tomorrow's Great Forest Park Balloon Race. The annual event returns to the Central Fields for its 47th year. The balloon glow, on the eve of the race, will kick off just before sundown today. The stars and stripes of pilot Frank Anger's balloon is seen in the background. Photo by Christian Gooden,

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, set for mid-September, has been canceled this year, but organizers are planning another event that will have locals looking to the skies.

The new event, dubbed Lift Up St. Louis, will take place Sept. 17-20. It will involve hot-air balloons launching from various spots around the area to make tribute flights to honor “essential workers, educators, healthcare heroes and those standing up for change,” according to organizers.

“We encourage the community to take heart because our team is determined to take to the skies, bring smiles and Lift Up St. Louis,” Jessica Stegen, director of communications and event production for the race, said in a statement.

The festival has run for 47 years, and organizers decided to cancel this year because of the coronavirus. It will return to Central Fields in Forest Park in September 2021. Excessive winds prevented the balloons from taking flight in 2019. 

For updates, visit the race’s social media channels or

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Robert Fancher, owner of Red Flag, gives a preview of the venue that's scheduled to open in 2021. A few small shows and movie nights already have been held in the space.

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