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Balloon Fest volunteer training

Volunteers practice the basics to filling, taking off and landing the hot air balloons on Saturday at the Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport on Saturday. Pictured volunteering on both sides of the balloon are Utica-area residents Mike Albin, right, and Sandy Scholl.

QUEENSBURY — Volunteers and some pilots had a small run Saturday morning at the Warren County airport to get ready for the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Those present were practicing the fundamentals of filling, taking off and deflating the hot air balloons.

“This event is all about volunteers because it wouldn’t exist without them,” coordinator for the event, Mark Donahue said. “This is one of the, if not the, largest balloon festival in the world that’s all volunteer-based. There’s not one paid person.”

The four-day event that begins Thursday at Crandall Park in Glens Falls, moves to Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport from Friday to Sunday morning and then is capped off Sunday afternoon back at Crandall.

The volunteers came from around the area, except for Mike Albin and Sandy Scholl.

The Utica-area duo, who are enjoying their retirement, are checking things off of their bucket list. On Thursday, they jumped out of a plane and come Saturday, they will be helping a hot air balloon turn from a canvas to a filled, mobile unit.

“Never done it before,” Scholl said.

Albin said he flew a hot air balloon before and did some crew work, though it was not at the festival’s magnitude.

“We are really excited to be here,” Albin said.

“Just to be a part of it is really amazing,” Scholl quickly added.

The event is free of charge and begins at Crandall Park on Thursday at 4:15 p.m. with live music. The first flight of up to 20 balloons begins at 5:15 p.m. To find the entire schedule, go to Adirondackballoonfest.org.

“This is an event by the community for the community,” Donahue said.

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Andrew David Kuczkowski is the education reporter. Andrew can be reached at 518-742-3354. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ByKuczkowski.

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