Great Texas Balloon Race
Great Texas Balloon Race is held each July near the City of Longview, Texas. It is billed as "The longest running hot-air balloon event in Texas."
The Great Texas Balloon Race Story: The genesis of the Great Texas Balloon Race was the grand opening of the Longview Mall in 1978. Local dentist and hot air balloon pilot, Dr. Bill Bussey, D.D.S., agreed to advertise the mall's opening by draping a sign for the Longview Mall from his hot air balloon as he flew over the City of Longview. From this initial event, Dr. Bussey, with the cooperation of Frankie Parson Riggins and Mary LeTourneau, Longview Mall managers. The Longview Mall managers agreed and allowed Dr. Bussey to create the first Great Texas Balloon Race which happened on the first anniversary of Longview Mall.
In 1980, Longview business owner Bill Stoudt and Stroh's Brewery joined forces with the Longview Mall and Dr. Bill Bussey to create the first-ever Balloon Glow which was held on the mall's parking lot.
In 1985, the Great Texas Balloon was moved to the Stroh Brewery complex in south west Longview.
The Great Texas Balloon race was in hiatus during 1987-1989. In 1990, the race was revived and moved to the East Texas Regional Airport (then called the Gregg County Airport) south of Longview. The airport is still the home of the race today.