Hot air balloons are scheduled to light up the skies of Ozark on Aug. 21, but 2020 will certainly bring about a different version of a yearly crowd-pleaser.

Organizers of the Children's Smile Center Balloon Glow announced on July 28 that the 14th edition of their event will take place in a new format, due to the public health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's balloon glow is scheduled to be a drive-through only event at a location yet-to-be-determined.

The Children’s Smile Center Hot Air Balloon Glow is unsually part of the two-day Sertoma Duck Race Festival. However, the CCCC Sertoma Club announced that the once-postponed Sertoma Duck Race has now been postponed into 2021. The event was orginally scheduled for June, but organizers hoped to push it back into August to reduce risks of the spread of COVID-19.

The hot air balloon event is the largest single fundraising event of the year for Children’s Smile Center, and provides enjoyment for thousands and thousands of families and individuals from across southwest Missouri.

An estimated crowd of about 12,000 attended the Children's Smile Center Hot Air Balloon Glow in 2018.

Proceeds from the Hot Air Balloon Glow benefit Children’s Smile Center's mission to provide dental care to children ages 1-19 and pregnant women covered by MO HealthNet (Medicaid) who reside in Christian, Stone, Taney, Dade, Barry or Lawrence Counties through its three dental clinics located in Ozark, Branson West and Aurora.

The hot air balloon glow is touchy to organize each year, pandemic or not. Weather and wind conditions are monitored right up to the time that the balloons are inflated, and pilots are very careful in making the decision to inflate their balloon based on local and area weather patterns, wind speeds, and any incoming weather fronts at the time of the event.

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