“Watch your step,” says Fred. Spread on the ground in front of us is a colorful hot air balloon opened wide across the grass awaiting the breath of life– it’s respirator a portable fan. Larger and larger it inflates as chase crew members hold guide lines to keep it under control. But it is the kiss of the flame that gives rise to the envelope and sets the balloon upright. It is 7 AM.
Action is everywhere. Surrounded by balloons on the ground and in the air we work our way through an enormous crowd. Men and women in the Zebra Patrol intersperse with the observers. Dressed in everything from referee uniforms to wacky zebra striped attire with tails, the Zebra Patrol supervises take off of each balloon. Blowing a whistle a woman with a large white cartoon style glove moves bystanders away from a ready-to-launch balloon and gives the pilot the all clear for take off.
Over 500 hot air balloons took flight on day one of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It seems like there were a lot more on day two but I never heard the count. This year the annual event runs October 5-13. We arrived on October 4 for a four night stay with the WBCCI rally.
Magical and enchanting the spectacle is quite the experience. Smokey the Bear, Darth Vader, Angry Bird, a lighthouse, the Wells Fargo stage coach, and three adorable bees are among the fanciful shapes that join the traditional shaped balloons. Elvis even rose to the occasion along with a princess and gigantic cow.
If you’d like to hear from some other folks who were at the rally check out this link.
Want to attend the Rally with your Airstream RV next year? You can contact Ken Johansen through the link above. Go to page one of the thread and send a message to Ken J. Or email email@example.com
The Balloon Fiesta site is here. The Fiesta itself is open to the public.