Mayor’s Corner: June 2022

Jason Snider, Mayor's Corner

Festival of Balloons

Last September, we began celebrating the City of Tigard’s 60th anniversary. Since then, people who live in Tigard and elsewhere have been quick to share what they love about Tigard. Their responses vary from Cook Park to the Fanno Creek Trail to downtown Tigard. The most common response that I hear, though, is about love for the Festival of Balloons.

Our community identity is linked to this iconic event. Unfortunately, for the last two years, COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of this event, which had grown into one of Oregon’s largest and most popular family-oriented festivals. For two years, we’ve been deprived of the always-impressive Night Glow, incredible live music from local bands, and the popular Festival of Cars.

It’s fitting that the Festival of Balloons returns in 2022 as the city celebrates its 60th anniversary. Along with festival activities, we will celebrate the city’s anniversary with a photo contest, giveaways, trivia, and special event programming.

The story of how the festival ‘landed’ in Tigard in 1984 is a key chapter in our city’s 60-year history. Originally called the Portland Hot Air Balloon Classic, the event was launched by the Rose Festival and hosted at Delta Park. When the Rose Festival expanded its offerings to Washington County, Beaverton served as the festival’s host city from 1987 to 1992. Then, in 1993, Tigard got the chance to host the festival. More than 11,000 people attended, watching 25 hot air balloon pilots lift off from Cook Park.

The following year the Rose Festival withdrew its support for the event. Our community rallied to save the festival and provide a permanent home for the Festival of Balloons.

As the festival grew, its roots grew deeper in our community. When more than 15,000 people poured into Cook Park in 2019, they might not have recognized that while they were enjoying music, rides, and food, they were also supporting local non-profits. That year, the Festival of Balloon helped raised $50,000 for local non-profits.

A range of non-profits benefitted from the funding. The American Cancer Society used festival earnings to provide transportation to cancer treatment and wigs for cancer patients. The Rotary Club used the funds to help the Tigard High School Intercambrio Club defray college costs and support mentorship programs. Tigard High Band Boosters leveraged funds to help students with band expenses, including travel, instrument repairs, and lessons.

Strong community support for the festival is critical to its long-term success. I urge you to do your part to support it – attend the festival, sponsor the festival, volunteer at the festival, or simply tell your friends about the festival. This community support is necessary to ensure that years from now we will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Balloons in Tigard.

I invite you to share your Festival of Balloons memories or ask city-related questions at my next Fireside Chat on Wednesday, June 8 at 6:30 pm at the Summerlake Park Shelter #1 (11450 SW Winterlake Drive). In the meantime, if you have questions or comments about any city-related issue, you can reach me at jason@tigard-or.gov or 503-810-0269.