Hudson hot air balloons_StaatsAcross the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin is a celebration of hot air balloons called the Hudson Hot Air Affair.  Begun in 1970, the festival brings pilots, hot air balloon enthusiasts, and lots of spectators out into the wintry morning air.  This morning’s temperatures were around 25 degrees –  mild for early February, but the winds were too strong and the cloud deck was too low to allow the balloons to launch into the sky.  When the weather conditions do not cooperate, the balloons are instead filled with air and up righted.  Some were tethered to vans and trucks, others were held down by multiple people at the ends of long ropes (at times trying to keep their footing as the balloons pulled and tugged and their feet slid over the compact snow and ice).  The balloons were plentiful and colorful, and the spectators were many and all seemed adept at keeping warm on a cold winter morning.  It was all a bright delight in the gray midst of winter.

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