PROSSER, Wash.- They're celebrating the 24th annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally this weekend. Every morning you can watch as the balloons inflate and take off, but this year they were missing one of their regulars.
"Right now the temperature to lift us up off the ground inside the balloon is around 200 degrees," explained Scott Spencer a professional pilot as his basket started to lift off the ground.
For nearly 42 years Spencer has been piloting the skies in a balloon. He works for Disney and now he flies the famous Mickey Mouse balloon and the giant Coca-Cola Olympic Spirit, commissioned for the London Olympics.
"I don't know how to do anything else," said Spencer.
It takes a team to get the balloon flying. They have to fill it up with air before they begin to heat it up. The Fournier family hasn't missed many balloon rallies.
"Last year was the only year we missed because my dad was in hospice," said Danielle Fournier.
John Fournier passed away last year after a battle with skin cancer. Friday's media day at the rally is named in his honor. He was one of the original organizers of the annual event.
"He really believed in the Balloon Rally when it started," said Fournier. "He was on the committee for years. He was always out here first with the coffee and donuts."
Danielle is carrying on her father's tradition, supporting the pilots as they take off.
"He thought it was going to be something fun for the town and he and Scott became friends and they were friends until the end," said Fournier.
"What a wonderful tribute to him to have media day named after him...he was a great guy," said Spencer. He and Fournier became friends as they built up the event over the years. Spencer travels the world in his balloon, but he always takes time to come back to fly in Prosser.
"John was so generous," said Spencer. "He gave of his time and he gave of his money to make sure a lot of these events took place so he's terribly missed."
The rally Fournier helped build runs all weekend with balloons taking off each day from the airport at sunrise.