PROSSER -- It wasn't until the late 1700s that humankind first got its first taste of the magic of flight with the invention of the hot air balloon.
Flights to the moon and beyond, and behemoth jet airplanes that fly nonstop from coast to coast in three hours have since overshadowed the charm and slower pace of a hot air balloon ride.
Or have they?
Thousands of people turn out for balloon rallies all over the world, confirming the allure of the giant balloons.
That's one reason the 22nd annual Great Prosser Balloon Rally has been a popular Mid-Columbia event for more than two decades.
This year's balloon rally features about 25 colorful hot air balloons that will fill the sky Sept. 23-25.
The balloon pilots, who come from all over the country, will lift off from the Prosser Airport at 6:30 a.m. each morning and drift quietly across the countryside.
"Spectators are encouraged to arrive early, about 6:15 a.m., to watch the pilots prepare the giant balloons," said Jim Milne, executive director of the Prosser Chamber of Commerce.
Some lucky spectators might even be asked to assist the pilots in inflating, chasing and recovering the balloons, he added.
The balloon rally also features a street dance on Sept. 23, a harvest festival, night glow, farmers market, barbecue and arts and crafts booths throughout the three-day event.
The harvest festival opens at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23 in downtown Prosser. It continues from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 24.
There will be live music at the street dance in downtown provided by Vicky and the Velvetones starting at 7 p.m. On Sept. 24, festivities kick off with a breakfast at City Park, on Seventh Street and Sommers Avenue.
The street painting event starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 24-25 in the downtown area. Anyone can join for a $5 fee. The chalk is provided. Register at the event. There will be 13 professional artists also involved with the street paintings.
The night glow festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Art Fiker Stadium, on Paterson Road. The night glow is a brilliant display of light when pilots light up their balloons on the ground after the sun sets.
There will be a food, coffee and hot chocolate available at the night glow. Admission is free.
For more information, go to www.prosserballoonrally.org. The rally also has a Facebook page.