It’s that time of year again for the 35th annual Great Texas Balloon Race (GTBR) which brings visitors from near and far to enjoy the colorful show taking place at the East Texas Regional Airport, July 22-28. GTBR will begin the national event on Tuesday morning with a flight over the city of Longview, and continue each morning through Sunday over Kilgore, Longview and the East Texas Regional Airport. The weekend events include a balloon glow both Friday and Saturday evenings, live concerts, kid land, and an array of vendors displaying their arts and crafts and selling concessions. This world-class event has been proclaimed “The Balloon Race Capital of Texas” by the 83rd Texas Legislature.
It would be impossible to have this event without the hundreds of volunteers each year. Serving on the executive board, Les Rickett spends his time volunteering in ticket sales for merchants in Longview. Mr. Rickett finds this event to be great entertainment for the family and is a major driver of tourism that benefits our local businesses.
“As a business person, I felt it was very important to give back to your community. Although I am currently retired, I still believe in this philosophy.” Mr. Rickett said.
In addition to his involvement with the GTBR, Mr. Rickett serves as secretary and member for the First Tee Piney Woods Board. He is the chair for the Jack Mann Splashpad fundraising and the Longview Parks board. Mr. Rickett also serves as a board member for the Longview Lions Club and the East Texas Oilmen’s Golf Association for the East Texas Treatment Center. He is currently helping the Gregg Historical Museum with their History of Sports in Gregg County exhibit slated to open later this month.
Born in Hillsboro, Wisconsin, Mr. Rickett has resided in Longview for 37 years. He and his wife, Joanne, have been married for 53 years and have three adult children and four grandchildren. Mr. Rickett is a graduate of Harlem High School in Loves Park, Illinois. Since his retirement from The Made-Rite Company, he and his wife enjoy traveling and visiting family.
“Where you live is what you make of it,” Mr. Rickett said. “We came to East Texas so we could raise our family, which turned out to be a win-win.”