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CLEAR SKIES, PEACEFUL BREEZES TOP FESTIVAL WISH LIST FOR APRIL 24

 LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Thanks to the sponsorship of Humana Health Care Plans, the ever-popular Derby Festival Great Balloon Race has been scheduled for the 21st year, with an early-morning launch time of 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 24. An estimated 30,000-40,000 wide-eyed spectators will likely see dawn break from the grounds of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.
 It all began in 1972 when Louisville restaurateur, Ed Hasenour, presented his idea for a Hot Air Balloon Race to the Festival Board of Directors. Using literature which he had gathered on other balloon events around the country, Hasenour's proposal would be carefully studied, discussed at subsequent meetings, and finally approved for the `73 Derby festival.
 That first Festival Great Balloon Race began modestly, as eleven balloons launched from Iroquois Park. Eleven balloonists again participated in the second race in 1974, and entries increased to 19 the next year. The event began to grow in size and stature, much as public interest in the ballooning sport increased across the nation. A limit of 50 entrants was imposed in 1984, due to launch space restrictions and safety considerations.
 1990 marked the first year of a new competition format for the race, as it became a "Double-Task" event. This contest consists of a Declared Goal, and a traditional "Hare and Hound" race. After lift-off, the "Hare" balloon pilot selects and marks a target with a large "X," then flies on. Following launch, each competing balloonist will spot the target, descend and drop a marker as close to the "X" as possible. Without having touched ground, each pilot must then ascend, and continue flying in pursuit of Hare balloon. A second time, the "Hare" pilot will place another larger, target "X" on the ground. The pursuing pilots will follow and drop their second marker near this "X." Points are awarded at both sites, and the race winner is determined by the highest score from the tosses at both targets.
 For the first time this year, the winner of the race will be presented two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States that Northwest Airlines flies, courtesy of The Woodside Travel Company.
 This year's field will give chase to the "Hare" balloon of Michelob Dry, piloted by Mel Hanson. Michelob Dry bears that distinction due to its victory in the 1991 race, followed by cancellation of the event in '92. Accordingly, Hanson will ascend first from the launch field. The lift-off sequence is determined by a pre-race random drawing.
 Special Shape Balloons are among the favorites of adults and children alike, and the great Balloon Race can be expected to have its share among the entrants. From a soft-drink can or huge chicken, to a giant moving van, one can expect to see almost anything among the colorful shapes filling the sky.
 -0- 4/22/93
 /CONTACT: Wendell Potter of Humana, 502-580-3683/


CO: Humana Inc.; Kentucky Derby Festival ST: Kentucky IN: LEI ENT SU:

SM -- NYDFNS7 -- 9098 04/22/93 06:52 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 22, 1993
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