The hot air balloon festival, originally planned for late September, has been a prominent fixture in North Texas for more than four decades. Organizers said they were "extremely mindful" of the large numbers of balloon pilots, out-of-town residents, volunteers and contractors who would have descended on Plano's Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve if the event had gone on as scheduled.
"While we are saddened to cancel this year’s event, we feel the safety of all involved is of the utmost importance," festival Executive Director Jo Via said in a statement. "This decision is not easy, but it is necessary."
The festival was also canceled in 2018 at the last minute as a dreary Friday evening weather forecast became an unexpected downpour that flooded the grounds of the park and made holding the event impossible.
Prior to 2018, organizers had occasionally suspended parts of the festival, Via said at the time. But never before had it been forced to cancel all operations.
This year, the organization behind the festival is still preparing a number of virtual and socially distanced activities, including a virtual option to run a half-marathon, 10K, 5K or 1K. Participants in these distanced races will receive a 10-year commemorative finisher medal and T-shirt.
Organizers will also release a video highlighting some of the top moments in the festival's ballooning history.