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Modified Alabama Jubilee to carry on Memorial Day tradition

DECATUR – The annual Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic will still be held this year in Decatur, but it will be limited to one day and have a reduced scale because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have announced.

The festival will remain part of Memorial Day weekend with its events May 23. At 6:30 a.m., balloon pilots will launch from different spots in Decatur and Morgan County and fly in a non-competitive flight. They will again take to flight at 5:30 p.m.

The Jubilee will not include tethered rides, vendors, car and tractor shows, or arts and crafts booths. No events will take place at Point Mallard Park, the home for the Alabama Jubilee.

Spectators will be asked to respect social distancing guidelines and not approach crews or pilots.

If weather is unsuitable on May 23 for the balloon flights, they might be held the following day, organizers said in a news release.

Up to 12 balloonists will participate in the impromptu flights, which will hearken back to the inaugural Alabama Jubilee.

Held in 1978, Decatur’s first balloon rally attracted 17 balloonists from Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. The celebration, which would grow to more than 60 balloons and attract more than 30,000 festivalgoers to Point Mallard, earned Decatur the nickname of the “Ballooning Capital of Alabama” from the state Legislature.

In a return to the event’s beginnings, the Jubilee will feature morning and evening flights on Saturday or next Sunday, weather permitting.

“A group of pilots will meet to determine the direction of the wind currents in order to help them decide the best launch site, which will enable them to fly over Decatur,” said Ramona Evans, president of the Alabama Jubilee Committee. “We encourage people to watch for the balloons to be flying early Saturday and or Sunday as well as in the afternoon.”

A second one-day event may take place later this summer, according to organizers.

For the latest on the flights, visit alabamajubilee.net.

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