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To glow or not to glow? If you don’t mind waking up early, it’s not even a question. The 35th annual Great Reno Balloon Race Sept. 9-11 offers spectators three early-morning opportunities to see the event’s colorful balloons contrast against the dark dawn sky.

On Friday morning only is the “Super Glow” Show, which begins at 5:15 a.m. For the first time in the event’s 35-year history, more than 20 balloons will light their flames and illuminate Rancho San Rafael Park to the sound of music.

If that doesn’t fit your family’s work and school schedules, you can still get your glow on Saturday and Sunday. At the 5 a.m. Glow Show both days, three to five balloons will serve as a beacon to spectators making their way to the park’s launch field.

Pajama Party

And you can literally roll out of bed and still be in fashion — and maybe even win something great. For spectators showing up in their jammies, the Biggest Little Pajama Party is back this year for a two-day contest. Friday, there will be a Harry Potter-themed pajama contest where the winner will enjoy a lift in the Angry Birds balloon on Sunday. Saturday, the visitor with the best pajama set will win a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood. Judging each day begins at 7 a.m.

Parking plan

If you go, be sure to plan your parking options in advance and arrive early so you won’t miss the Glow Show. For $10, spectators can park at the Sierra Street/McCarran Boulevard lot or the Coleman Drive lot beginning at 3:30 a.m. The neighboring University of Nevada, Reno offers its north parking lot to the public free before 10 a.m.

If you’d rather not work to find a parking spot, there’s the RTC Park & Ride Program, which will provide pickup points at the RSCVA Convention Center-Parking Lot C, Reed High School and downtown Reno’s Citicenter. For information call 775-348-RIDE or visit

Learn more about the Great Reno Balloon Race online.

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