Rome Hot Air Balloon Festival

Looney Tunes characters will be one of the several features seen at the upcoming Hot Air Balloon festival in Rome.

Crews are finishing up the overlay on the secondary runway at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport, and it’s expected to reopen Thursday.

“They’re running two crews and having no issues,” Executive Director John Carroll told members of the Floyd County Airport Commission Tuesday. “It’s currently scheduled to open late Thursday but they’re going faster than we expected.”

Chip Hood, who chairs the board, said pilots coming into the airport should monitor NOTAMs — the timely Notices To Airmen issued to alert them to changes.

“If the crews get done early, we’re going to open it Thursday morning,” he said.

The work has been underway all month.

Carroll also said Tuesday the Northwest Georgia Hot Air Balloon Festival appears to be on track to return this year. The Floyd County Commission agreed in late March to shift the dates to June 28-29 from the original contract dates of June 7-8.

Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter said a handful of balloonists who weren’t sure it would return made other plans for early June. The organizer, Jeremy Kwaterski, has said hobbyists from around the country will be coming with their colorful balloons, several in the shape of cartoon characters.

High winds cut into activities last year, at the first hot air balloon festival in September, but the event still drew crowds. And Kwaterski told the Airport Commission earlier this year he’s making some changes.

“I think this year everything will be great. The kids will love it,” Hood said.

Tickets are on sale now through eventbrite, starting at $10 for kids and ranging up to $25 for VIP adult. Tethered rides in the hot air balloons are extra. Kwaterski said parking is included in the ticket price and they’re good either day.

Airplanes, helicopters and flyovers are expected to be part of the festival, which also includes more than 100 craft vendors, retailers and food trucks.