ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After more than a year, Balloon Fiesta is back. Saturday was the start of the 49th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta after it was postponed last year because of the pandemic. And with the green light, or rather glow from dawn patrol, day one was a go.
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“So exciting, so happy to be back,” said Sharon Hartshorn, a local balloon pilot.
“The crowds, the balloons, it’s like our Superbowl,” said Hector Corominas, a balloon pilot visiting from Texas. On Saturday, hundreds of balloonists took to the skies.
“It’s hard to explain it. Just flying with 600 of your closest friends. It’s just, it’s like nothing else,” said Hartshorn.
“The best way I can explain it is like a boy coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to see all his presents under the tree,” said Corominas. Thousands of visitors came out to take in the picture-perfect views and snapshots of their favorite balloons, including the Yoda balloon.
“I was very sad when the 3 a.m. alarm clock went off, but I’m so happy now. It’s been such a great day,” said Michelle Robinson, visiting from Denver, Colorado. “I cried a little when Yoda went up.”
With masks required indoors and in crowds, there are lingering signs of the pandemic. But guests tell KRQE nothing can take away the magic of the Fiesta.
“It feels awesome. It feels right. It feels just, I don’t know, it just warms your heart to see people back out. It just feels normal and I think we all need a little bit of normal back in our lives,” said Kristen Juarez, who lives in Albuquerque.
“It’s always just so magical,” said Carlye Hausback, who lives in Albuquerque. “You look up and you see all the colors. It’s great”