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Beam them up! Free hot air balloon show coming to Mesquite, Nev.

It’s up, up and away as more than 40 hot air balloons take to the sky for a weekend of fun in Mesquite, Nev., about 80 miles north of Las Vegas.

The scenic Virgin Valley near the Utah border, will form the backdrop to the Mesquite Balloon Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

Each morning at 7:30, the “Stars and Stripes” balloon will ascend first. Once launched, dozens of other balloons will chase -- albeit slowly -- the lead balloon while floating above the desert landscape.

The ascensions are weather permitting; high winds can force them to be canceled, as happened last year.

The launching pad is a parking lot near the CasaBlanca Resort-Casino just off Interstate 15. From 6 to 7 a.m. Saturday, the lot will be aglow with colorful balloons illuminated by their burners.

Visitors are welcome to wander among the balloons and chat with their pilots. There’s no admission charge.

Food and entertainment will also be provided. One of the highlights will be free shows by the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, a long-running Vegas act, inside the resort at 9:30 and 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Rooms at the Casablanca start at $79 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Info: Mesquite Balloon Festival

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