ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - As most people have likely noticed, traffic is much busier this week in part because of all the tourists in town for Balloon Fiesta.
And all those tourists translate into a big economic boom for the city and that boom is getting bigger every year.
As the sun rises, so do the balloons, hundreds ascending high above Albuquerque.
“When a city gets branded with such a positive event, that’s good for business,” said Terri Cole of the Albuquerque’s Chamber of Commerce.
“Well, it’s actually about $120 million in direct revenue spending about $18 million plus in taxes generated, 1,600 jobs in a huge event for the city,” said Helen Collins of the HBC Event Services.
Attendance tops 700,000 for the nine-day Balloon Fiesta.
More than half of the people who walk through the gates are from outside the Albuquerque area – a lot of them coming from out of state.
A survey showed those out-of-towners are spending almost five days here on average and they're spending close to $200 a day.
“When people come to the city as a tourist, they spend money and they spend money at all kinds of places,” Cole said.
While they spend a lot on Main Street at the park, they also have to eat when they're not watching balloons.
Restaurants are bustling for nine days and visitors are shopping, going to the casinos and sightseeing, too.
Collins, who helps book travel for groups, says this year, more than 50 hotels have reservations from people outside New Mexico.
“I think it’s been one of the main reasons for hotels expanding into the area as far as the number of rooms we currently have,” said Collins.
Collins says for those making last-minute plans, rooms will still be available, choices will be limited.
But Balloon Fiesta is about a lot more than money. It helps put the city on the map, making it an international destination for a couple weeks out of the year.
“It just simply is an event that brings Albuquerque together, that brings New Mexico together and it brings the world together,” said Cole.
With frigid temperatures, it's hard to imagine living without a heater these days. An Albuquerque woman claims that's exactly what her family has had to endure due to a pile of problems inside her apartment.
A District Court judge has ordered city leaders respond to a petition filed by an animal activist on the city's trap-neuter-return approach of managing feral cats.
Police responded to dozens of weather-related crashes in only a matter of hours Sunday.
A small plane crashed at about 8 a.m. Sunday morning on the Canyon Rim Trail near N.M. 502 and the entrance of Los Alamos.
Sunday night in Albuquerque and around the world people gathered for candlelight vigils to remember the loss of their children.
Department of Agriculture officials are warning customers to not get burned when buying firewood.