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The Thurston ClassiC

Father's Day Weekend

June 13-16

June 13th
June 14th
June 15th
June 16th
Joyce Stevens' Night Glow
Ted Watts' Tribute Sponsors Flight
Sanctioned Races #1 and #2
Sanctioned Race #3

Ballooning has a very long history in Meadville. The Thurstons were a Meadville family who were involved with ballooning in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Samuel Sylvester Thurston was born in 1834, and operated a hotel in Meadville. In 1860, Samuel learned how to fly from noted balloonist, Professor Steiner, and purchased a balloon. Townspeople were skeptical, but over the next 25 years, Samuel made 215 ascensions in his balloon. He enjoyed sharing his unusual sport with others, flying without charge at fairs, exhibitions, and 4th of July celebrations.

 

Following in the footsteps of his father, Alic Thurston began ballooning in 1889. His first public ascension in 1891 abruptly ended when his balloon caught on the wiring of the newly-installed street lights of Meadville and never took off.  Alic later built a number of balloons, including one that he christened the “Meadville”. The Meadville was constructed of 576 yards of muslin, and stood 64 feet high. It had a volume of 35,000 feet, which is only half the size of a model ern sport hot-air balloon, but comparable to the gas balloons still flown in competition today.  He had many accomplishments, as well as misadventures, and is the gentleman who launched his balloon from the roof of the Market House in downtown Meadville, the same one you see today.

In 1988 a group of volunteers decided to commemorate the daring feats of the Thurston’s during the Meadville Bicentennial celebration. Since 1988 the Thurston Classic has brought beautiful balloons to the brilliant skies over Meadville, Pennsylvania and the surrounding Crawford County. Thanks to an army of volunteers and local community and business support the balloons will take to the skies again in 2024!

Let's Keep 'Em Flying!

The Balloons

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ABOUT US

Alic Thurston launching the Meadville in Meadville, PA
Alic Thurston's Labor Day Launch

Our Story

The Thurston Classic has been a staple of Meadville for years, bringing families and friends together for a weekend of fun and excitement. Our event features a wide array of hot air balloons, flown by some of the most skilled pilots in the country. We also offer a variety of entertainment options, souvenirs, food, live commentary, and more. Our goal is to provide an unforgettable experience for attendees. Thank you for your years of support!

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