Saturday, October 06, 2007

It's Balloon Fiesta Time!

Totally off blog theme, but I just wanted to talk about one of our wonderful traditions here in the Albuquerque area. This is home to the largest hot air balloon rally in the world--The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Every year the city hosts hot air balloons from around the world--normally between 500 - 700. Each Saturday and Sunday morning involves a mass assension of hundreds of balloons. Many evenings there is a magical Balloon Glow event, where the balloons are tethered and burned on countdown. It's impossible to describe without witnessing it in person, but imagine standing in a herd of fire breathing dragons. When those balloons light up, the roar of the burners and the heat of the flames, along with the incredible glow of those massive shapes is an experience like few others.

This is a big event. A huge event. On weekends, there can be 100,000+ people on the balloon field. Spectators are allowed right into the midst of the waves of balloons as they are stretched out, cold inflated and then hot inflated, stood up, and launched. The launch crews all dress up in various costumes with a Zebra theme. Balloons travel here from all over the world. Because of the Sandia Mountain range and the unique wind patterns of the Rio Grande Valley, this is a mecca for balloonists. Our weather this time of year is pretty spectacular too--bright, sunny, cool mornings and warm days.

Our balloon fiesta been called the most photographed event in the world. The Rose Parade is #2, if you can believe that. As residents it's sometimes a love/hate relationship. We love the festive atmosphere, the flurry of activity, the amazing sight of hundreds of colorful balloons stretched out across our horizon, the art shows, craft fairs, concerts and events that accompany it. But then there's also the traffic, and the clogged restaurants, and the traffic, and the booked-full flights, and the traffic, and the packed malls and theatres, and the traffic, and the waiting lines every where you go, and did I mention the traffic?

Let me share a few images with you in other posts below. Of course it's nothing like standing up-close-and-personal, but still a lot of fun to look at.

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