LEWISTON — Twenty-four hot air balloons took to the skies this morning carrying about 100 passengers for the 19th annual Great Falls Balloon Festival.

People young and old gathered in Railroad Park and along the bridge between Lewiston and Auburn to watch the colorful balloons fill with hot air and lazily sail with the wind. This year’s theme, “Critters in the Clouds,” featured balloons that took shape of a ladybug, a beaver and an owl.

Just before the beaver launched into the air with its passengers, Aidan Carrillo, 6, said that was his favorite. He came to watch the launch with his younger brother, two older sisters and his mother, Kristin Carrillo, all of Merrimack, N.H.

Activities continue throughout the day along the banks of the Androscoggin River, including a parade at 11 a.m., amusements, live music and another balloon launch at 6 p.m., weather permitting. The festival ends Sunday. For more information and a schedule of events, visit www.greatfallsballoonfestival.org.