A three-day hot air balloon festival will be held Labor Day weekend at Pelican Park in Carencro.

Glow in the Cro will feature hot air balloons, live music and carnival rides Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

"This is a great family event," said Pat Harwell, the balloonist behind the festival. "Carencro is brand new for us. My wife and I have been hosting these festivals because the sport — I don't want to say it's dying, but it's getting smaller. Most of the pilots who got into it in the '90s are turning gray or are leaving the planet. So young people are needed in the sport to continue it and keep it alive."

The Harwells, who live in Shreveport, started hosting hot air balloon festivals in Louisiana and Oklahoma about four years ago. Licensed balloon pilots since 1991, they initially became interested in balloons as a marketing tool for their roofing business.

But that changed when they took their first flight.

"Once you get bit by this, you can get enough of it," Harwell said. "The most fun thing about the sport is the kids. The kids are so pure, and the energy they put out when they really enjoy something is incredible."

Glow in the Cro will feature about 20 hot air balloons, which will glow along the park's skyline at sunset Aug. 30-31. Tethered and full flight hot air balloon rides will be available to the public.

Tethered rides will take place throughout the festival. The balloon reaches about 30-40 feet during the five-minute ride. Cost will be $20 or $25.

Full flights will take place the mornings of Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The balloon trip will take participants on a one- to two-hour flight, depending on wind conditions. Full flight rides cost $250 per person and require preregistration. 

Harwell compares flying in a hot air balloon to sitting on an air mattress in a swimming pool.

"Everything else underneath you moves, and you are suspended," Harwell said. "I can't get enough of it. I can't get enough flying."

Entertainment lineup will include Dustin Sonnier and the Wanted, Gregg Martinez and the Delta Kings, Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns and Clay Cormier and the Highway Boys.

"We're excited to let people see what Carencro's all about," said Pelican Park Director Jim Thibodeaux. "We just expanded the Pelican Park facility, and we're excited to showcase our new green space, parking lot and handicapped playground."

Thibodeaux attended the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival in Gonzales to get a feel for hosting this type of event. He didn't ride in a hot air balloon in Gonzales and hopes to have the opportunity during Glow in the Cro.

"I've never been in a hot air balloon," Thibodeaux said. "I'm hoping to ride on one if I get the courage."

Admission to the festival will cost $5 per person. Sponsorship and partnership opportunities are available.

Email Megan Wyatt at mwyatt@theadvocate.com.