As if it weren't already hot enough in August, Highland Village has to prove that its air is hotter than everybody else's air by throwing a hot air balloon festival. Yeah, that's what happens when you chop down all the shady trees and throw down tons of black asphalt and blistering concrete. For the record, Highland Village isn't the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World yet--Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Bristol, England, are duking it out for that title. But throw up a few more housing developments and strip malls and maybe Highland Village could be the Outdoor Egg-Frying Capital of the World. Why is the city throwing this festival in August when the air in the balloons has to compete with the already sauna-like conditions outside? Wouldn't it be faster for the balloons to rise in cooler air in October or November? The Highland Village Balloon Festival takes place Friday through Sunday at Copperas Branch Park, Interstate 35 E and Lake Lewisville. Call 972-317-5558 or visit www.highlandvillage.org. --Jay Webb
Our normal reaction when we find an opossum in our back yard is as follows: "Shoot it, Ma! Kill that sumbitch! Lordy, these opossum bastards creep me out. Now stomp on it! Stomp it good, Ma!" But it's been brought to our attention by the local police department that such behavior is a bit unruly, so in an effort to avoid the scorn of our neighbors, we look to Saturday's Backyard Wildlife Garden Walk at Texas Discovery Gardens, 3601 Martin Luther King Drive, to teach us some opossum patience. The 10 a.m. walk promises to explain "which wild neighbors might be visiting your back yard while you're sleeping." But this is a kids event, so they mean raccoons and opossums, rather than, say, our crazy, one-eyed Uncle Murphy. We hope. Entry is $1.50 to $3. Call 214-428-7476. --Sam Machkovech
Hit The Trails
One of the tidbits we did not know about horses--we stopped gathering equine facts after Sparky stepped on our feet when we were 11--is that when a group of them are assembled for a photo, the ponies are lined up in front of the taller horses, just as if they were posing for their sixth-grade class photo. Participants in this weekend's Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride will witness that spectacle just before they head off through a 1,000-acre tract that will take them through parts of Grapevine, Coppell and Flower Mound, through territory still harboring longhorn cattle, coyotes and hawks. Riders raise at least $75 each for St. Jude's Research Hospital and bring their own horse, but those who can donate $350 will have a horse provided. Organized by Grapevine's Wagon Wheel Ranch, all proceeds benefit St. Jude's; the trail ride begins at 8 a.m. Sunday. Call 817-481-8284 for directions and pledge forms. --Claiborne Smith
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