The Grand Rapids Balloon Festival officially begins tonight and runs through Saturday.

Early this morning, I was lucky to get a preview of all the fun to come.

The Grand Rapids Balloon Festival starts at 6:00pm Friday night and runs from 6:00am - 9:00pm on Saturday. The festival is at Gordon Food Service on Gezon Parkway in Wyoming.

My kids and I got a preview early this morning.

Despite some nerves (my 8-year-old was bravest of us all) we were ready to hit the sky. The wind had other ideas.

Winds need to top out around 10 mph to go up. We had winds around 10 mph on the ground, but up to the mid-20s higher up.

That didn't stop us from getting in the baskets and firing them up while still on the ground.

The noise and heat that comes from hot air balloons is something you can't really appreciate until you are right next to it.

We also were able to talk with the pilots, collect some trading cards, and have more fun.

There will be lots of fun for kids this weekend including an inflatable slide, a bounce house, yard games, temporary tattoos, and chances to talk to the pilots.

Admission is free with a $5 parking pass. Proceeds go to Hug a Bear, Metro Health Child Life Services, Paws with a Cause, and Starlite Shores Family Camp.

Food will be available.

Check out a full list of the weekend's activities including a special "night glow'!

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