Hot Air Balloons


Float toward the third annual MHC BalloonFest on Saturday, Nov. 13.

This year the MHC campus is featuring the balloon festival to bring fun to local residents. After having to skip last year because of coronavirus, this year’s event is put on with the hope of giving people a safe event to attend.

Marana Skydive will kick things off with a fly-in. Attendees will also discover 30 food trucks, a raffle, a classic car show with more than 50 cars put on by the Tucson Street Rod Association, 10 hot air balloons for an evening glow event, two hot air balloons available for rides and a fireworks display at the end of the evening.

Stephen Stone, director of development at the MHC Foundation, joined with another colleague to put together the balloon festival with the hope of entertaining attendees while raising money for a good cause.

“A few years ago we were kicking ideas around to have a fundraiser that was not another rubber-chicken standard gala,” Stone said. “Years ago, there was a smaller balloon festival that used to happen and it died off. We decided to resurrect it and the first year we thought a few hundred people would show up and knew we were onto something good when 7,500 people showed up.”

The money raised from the MHC Balloon festival goes to help fund MHC’s developing program to help new physicians complete residency requirements. The goal is that as physicians complete their training in Southern Arizona, some decide to stay, becoming a part of the community.

“The nation and Arizona is facing a severe physician shortage,” Stone said. “We need thousands of physicians—in Arizona alone, we are short 12,000. One way we can help address this is raising money to help cover the costs of helping new physicians complete their training.”

Stone said the costs associated with pushing one physician through training and completing all administrative and licensing requirements can run $100,000. The MHC Balloon festival is one way the healthcare group hopes to expand on how many new physicians they can help.

There will also be beer available from Finley distributors and activities for the kids, including jumping castles and obstacle courses. Several bands will provide live music and the Marana Police Department, Pima County Sheriff’s Department and Northwest Fire will host booths with special exhibits. 

The festival will run from 3 to 9 p.m., but balloon activities will be weather dependent. General admission is $10 a person, with children under 6 free. Parking is available at no cost. Tickets are available via Eventbrite. Most activities are included with general admission but beer sales, wine tasting, tethered balloon rides and food vendors require separate payment.

All participants are encouraged to wear comfortable closed-toe walking shoes. As the event goes into the evening, people are also encouraged to bring a sweater or light jacket to accommodate cooler temperatures.

This is a cash-only event with vendors not accepting electronic payments. ATMs will be on-site for convenience but anyone attending the festival is encouraged to visit an ATM prior to arrival.

Coronavirus safety protocols include all events taking place outside. Attendees are encouraged to wear masks and hand sanitizer will be available.

The MHC Balloon festival is taking place at the MHC Healthcare Campus at 13395 N. Marana Main St., across from the Marana Town Hall. 


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