ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As part of the Albuquerque Aloft program, students at schools across Albuquerque on Friday got an up-close look at some of the balloons featured at this year’s Balloon Fiesta.

More than 200 balloonists visited schools across the metro. The students also got a chance to interact with pilots and crew members during the balloon launch.

Kataleya Olivas, a third-grade student at Pajarito Elementary School, attended the event with her family, some of whom were from Austin, Texas. When asked about the event, she said “it’s very, very cool.” Olivas also said she would go in a hot air balloon if given the chance.

The event has become a tradition for the ballooning community, schools, and families like Janet Buenafe’s. Buenafe has attended the event at Pajarito Elementary School with her family, including her son Jesse, for five years. “This is like our balloon fiesta right here. So, it’s really been really fun to come out here every year to watch it and watch all the kids get excited,” said Buenafe.

Pajarito Elementary School teachers and staff also took part in the event by bringing students up to the balloon to receive trading cards from Principal Debra Larribas who stood in the balloon’s gondola on the ground.

For some kids, this was the first time they saw a hot air balloon.“This is very special for us. We get to be with the community and my son’s never seen a balloon before. So, he’s [in] preschool and it’s just special,” said Adrian Pena, who attended Albuquerque Aloft at Los Ranchos Elementary School with her children.

Larribas and Los Ranchos Elementary School Principal Craig Robinson both said the event is always a fun time for the community. “The families here love it, and it’s a great opportunity for children and families to get really close to a balloon,” said Robinson.

Schools with limited space got to launch “globitos,” which are small remote-controlled balloons