Oklahoma’s Version of the Aurora Borealis

Oklahoma skies are synonymous with dangerous storm clouds in the spring, cloudless, unending blue skies in the summer, beautiful orange and yellow sunsets in the fall, and sleet filled clouds in the winter. What we aren’t accustomed to is the bright colors that light up the sky for days on end like the Northern Aurora Borealis.

So, if we don’t have it, ……we make our own. On August 5th-7th Claremore skies are going to be filled with every color of the rainbow. Yes, that’s right….it’s time for the annual Gateway Foundation Hot Air Balloon Festival that is hosted by Claremore’s very own Will Rogers Downs Cherokee Casino.

The Gateway Foundation is a local non-profit organization that provides living facilities and job opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The goal of this foundation is to provide the necessary training, social skills and life skills to enable those with disabilities to eventually find some independence in their adult lives.

Gateway was founded in 1963 by a local Tulsan named Helen Gates whose son Ronnie was born with Down Syndrome. When Ronnie became an adult cold, impersonal institutions were the only available options for people with histype of disability. Mrs. Gates did not want that life for her son. So a lack of options prompted her to create a more comfortable environment. Her goal was to help others as well as her son live meaningful productive lives.

Mrs. Gates has exceeded her goals by founding a state of the art facility with a network of volunteers and dedicated employees whose mission is to help those who are not able to help themselves. These folks are doing some great work for our community and deserve our support.

“Reach for the Stars Hot Air Balloon” will be at the festival and tethered balloon rides can be obtained for a donation of $10. Also available will be live entertainment, food vendors, and various children’s activities to keep the young ones occupied.

Come out and enjoy the bright colors of the rainbow light up the sky while supporting a worthy cause. Admission, parking, and seating are free to the public.

Event Hours:
Friday, August 5th: 4 PM – 11 PM
Saturday, August 6th: 7 AM – 11 PM
Sunday, August 7th: 7 AM – 10 AM


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