ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Balloon Fiesta collectibles like pins and posters are popular every year, but the excitement is ramped up even more for anything commemorating the 50th anniversary. “This year, we really wanted to bring a lot of different stuff, so we wanted to do a big celebration with the 50th, obviously,” said Balloon Fiesta Assistant Manager Chani Kaibetoney.

Kaibetoney says that its extensive inventory covers a variety of items for all age groups. This year has a special spin, paying tribute to the first fiesta back in 1972. “I mean, this started in ’72, and we wanted to bring some of that stuff back, so we do have some designs that are a little bit more retro, so you’ll see some retro ringer tees, you’ll see some designs from back in the 70’s that in the ’80s,” added Kaibetoney.

To keep fiesta goers warm during the brisk early mornings, the gift shop, online store, and two large merchandise tents will be selling 50th-anniversary apparel, including special edition jackets paying homage to the 13 balloons that flew in the inaugural event at Coronado in 1972. 

“We went above and beyond this year, and something that is really cool this year is our varsity jacket. We went back and forth with that one, and it came out really pretty, but as usual, Kaibetoney says the products fans are most fond of are collectibles, especially the monochromatic anniversary pins, which have been flying off the shelves.

“Definitely the most sought out items are our pins and our patches and our poster. Those are always collectible. We sold out of these pretty quickly, and since there are in a series, there’s only a thousand of them made,” said Kaibetoney.

The poster, which features a dozen or so Looney Tunes characters, is the final chapter in a five-year series. “Something that’s kind of fun that we do is there is a hidden roadrunner in each one of our posters, and we have people just come and stare at them for a little while just to find the hidden road runner,” said Kaibetoney.

Balloon Fiesta did put aside some of those pins to sell in the tents at the event.