Replica hot air balloons part of Longview’s 150th birthday celebration

The Great Texas Balloon Race has made hot air balloons iconic to Longview, and they could become permanent fixtures around town in more than just the skies.

Gregg County Historical Museum supporters have laid out plans for businesses and residents to purchase metal replica hot air balloons that can be placed in lawns, gardens and elsewhere across the city.

The replicas could be rolled out Jan. 1 when the city begins its six-month-long sesquicentennial celebration that commemorates its founding in 1870. The metal balloons have 25-year life spans and are envisioned to play a role similar to metal tomatoes seen in Jacksonville or replica sheep in San Angelo, museum Director Lindsay Loy said.

“This will become the signature emblem of our community,” said Frank Jackson with the Gregg County Historical Commission. He estimates the balloons could cost about $3,000 each.

Loy and Jackson announced the balloon endeavor Wednesday during a meeting to plan Longview 150, the official name for the city’s sesquicentennial. Planners also discussed an Ambucs parade, Junior League ball, Whataburger of East Texas transportation show and multiple other cultural events and exhibits planned in 2020.

Multiple agencies are expected to be involved in installation of the balloons, whether on grass or concrete grounds, as city of Longview Public Works and Development Services divisions will be tasked with ensuring no utility lines are disrupted.

Each balloon is 5-feet, 9-inches tall and 3 feet wide at the top.

Modisette Welding in Kilgore will create, sandblast and prime the balloons. Each person or business that buys a balloon will control the look of the balloon’s exterior, including colors. The balloons are designed not to rust and have tamper-proof bolts.

In other Longview 150 planning, Melanie Northcutt Crocker with the Junior League of Longview said members have reached out to several VIPs about attending the Sesquicentennial Ball the group is hosting Feb. 22 at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

Tickets for individual or table seating — as well as more information — are available at or by emailing

Uniquely Longview, the periodical magazine from Longview Chamber of Commerce, will serve as the official book of the sesquicentennial, Community Services Director Laura Hill said.

Longview Ambucs will produce the Grande Sesquicentennial Trek parade scheduled for April 18, 2020, with a rain date of April 25, 2020. Hill said the city’s centennial parade in 1970 drew almost 300 entries and about 35,000 people to downtown.

“We can close downtown as much as we need to for this once-every-50-years event,” Hill said.

Whataburger of East Texas has agreed to host a transportation show that will showcase not only cars but other types of transportation used throughout Longview’s history. A date for the show hasn’t been set, and organizers haven’t decided on whether to hold the show at Maude Cobb or downtown.

To learn more about Longview 150 planning, contact Hill at

Also, Kimberly Fish is asking residents to submit written statements no longer than two paragraphs that tell what they think are significant events or things about Longview and its history.

Statements may be emailed to Fish at