Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival

The Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival will run Thursday and Friday, May 10 and 11 from 4 to 9 p.m. and will coclude with a balloon launch on Saturday, May 12 at 6:30 a.m. at Turf Valley, in Ellicott City. Balloon launches will also take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Other balloon-related activities include pilot demonstrations, walk-through balloons, a “Balloon Glow” every evening at dusk, and, for a fee, tethered balloon rides and balloon flights. Live performers will provide entertainment throughout the event, while the younger set can enjoy a variety of crafts and activities geared just toward them. Vendors will be on hand, selling retail products, handmade crafts and food. (Photo by Christy Poulis / April 26, 2012)

Most people think of horse racing when they hear the word "Preakness," but in our area, we associate the second leg of the Triple Crown with hot air balloons, too. Every year, Turf Valley plays host to the Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival, which is free of charge and open to the public. This family friendly event will run from on Thursday, May 10 and Friday, May 11 from 4 to 9 p.m. and will conclude on Saturday, May 12 with a 6:30 a.m. balloon launch.

Balloon launches will also take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Other balloon-related activities include pilot demonstrations, walk-through balloons, a "Balloon Glow" every evening at dusk, and, for a fee, tethered balloon rides and balloon flights.

Live performers will provide entertainment throughout the event, while the younger set can enjoy a variety of crafts and activities geared just toward them. Vendors will be on hand, selling retail products, handmade crafts, and food.

Since many balloon activities are weather-dependent, make sure to call 410-465-1500, ext. 2874 for updates. Turf Valley's address is 2700 Turf Valley Road, in Ellicott City, but all public parking will be off-site at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship. Go to http://www.turfvalley.com to learn more, or call 410-465-1500.


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If you love a good bargain, then take note of two church yard sales scheduled for Saturday, May 12.

St. James United Methodist, at 12470 Old Frederick Road, in Marriottsville, will put on its annual Spring Fling from 9 a.m. 1 p.m., with yard sale spaces available for $10 each. To reserve a spot, call the church at 410-442-2020. The event will also feature a plant sale, a bake sale, activities for the kiddos, and a food booth. Proceeds will benefit the Camp Hope youth mission trip.

Meanwhile, in Glenwood, St. Andrew's Episcopal will support its summer Youth Pilgrimage through a Gigantic Benefit Yard Sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a flower, herb and vegetable sale May 12 and 13, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., both days. Look for that perfect second-hand treasure or browse the plants for a terrific Mother's Day gift. The church address is 2892 Route 97; call 410-442-5445 with any questions, or email Lynne Quinn at lynnequinn@comcast.net.

This month, Bon Secours Spiritual Center will offer two free community programs. The first, "Keep the Spirit Up – A Day for Job Seekers and Career Changers" will run on Friday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day includes a morning of guided reflection and relaxation followed by a noon lunch and an afternoon of job search management workshops. BSSC suggests a freewill offering of $15.

The second program, a Music at Marriottsville concert, will begin on Sunday, May 20 at 3 p.m. with pianist Ellen Graybill performing a selection of classical and new age pieces. A freewill offering will be invited.

Bon Secours will offer three additional programs this month:

On Saturday, May 5, Sister Sara Dwyer will teach about "Mary, Icon of God and Model for All Believers," from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Participants should bring their favorite prayers, pictures of Mary, and a Bible. The day costs $55.

Bill Coffin will continue leading "Mastering the Mysteries of Sacramental Love" a relationship enhancement series for Catholic couples, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 10. The session costs $50 per couple.

Finally, on Saturday, May 26, Marcia McMullin will teach how to "Be Compassionate to Your Sorrow." The retreat invites participants to find rest, renewal, and refreshment by grieving their losses compassionately. The program runs on Saturday, May 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and costs $55.

To register for Bon Secours programs, go to http://www.bonsecoursspiritualcenter.org, or call 410-442-1320. The address is 1525 Marriottsville Road, in Marriottsville.

Band students at West Friendship Elementary School have been learning and growing all year, and now they are ready to share their musical accomplishments with the community. Come listen to the Spring Band and Jazz Band Concert, which will take place in the school cafeteria on Wednesday, May 9 at at 7 p.m.

The annual West Friendship Elementary Spring Festival will rock the school tomorrow, Friday, May 4 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Neighborhood children of all ages will appear in force, sporting colorful "snow cone lips," painted faces, and two-liter sodas proudly won at the popular soda toss game. The event will also showcase gymnastics, Tae Kwon Do, and Zumba demonstrations, as well as a rock band for kids.

To learn more about joining the fun, email Karen Wright at karenw@futures-inc.com, or Kellie Cimerola at kcimerola@yahoo.com.

Do you want your voice heard about county matters such as growth, traffic, emergency medical care, downtown Columbia, and more? Attend the 51st annual meeting of the Howard County Citizens Association on Monday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Hawthorn Center, 6175 Sunny Spring, in Columbia. HCCA will forward all concerns and suggestions to Howard County officials. To learn more or leave a comment, go to howardcountyhcca.org/contact-us.