For the seventh consecutive year, the American Bus Association has named the Colorado Balloon Classic one of the nation's top 100 tourist destinations.
"The event is well known in the community, friendly to families and large groups, and the travel and motor coach industry," said Dan Ronan, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based trade association, which represents motorcoach and tour companies.
This Labor Day weekend was the 37th year for the Balloon Classic, which association president Peter Pantuso called a "don't miss entertainment value;" but the classic's real value is its potential to draw tourism dollars to the city, he said.
"The honor gives the Colorado Balloon Classic an important boost in visibility among professional tour planners," Pantuso wrote in a press release.
The event's inclusion on this year's list came at a time when organizers had to find additional funds to put it on, said Patsy Buchwald, president of the Balloon Classic. Although the event is sponsored by the city, Buchwald requested extra funding to pay for additional barricades and cover the increased cost of police officers who work traffic and crowd control.
City Council members approved spending an additional $6,596 this year to cover the barricades, bringing the city's commitment to this year's classic to $38,146. The money comes from the city's annual Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART).
However, the city did not approve about $6,500 for additional police costs, she said.
Buchwald said having the Balloon Classic make the association's list again is acknowledgement of her team's efforts and the recognition the event brings to the city.
"Sometimes it takes someone out of the region to see the value of something in the region," she said, "and this is an acknowledgement that it is larger than what even I and my staff believe it is."
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275