Balloon Fiesta concerns as COVID cases rise and restrictions tighten

Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With COVID-19 and the new Delta variant spreading rapidly, people are starting to get concerned about the fate of this year’s Balloon Fiesta. The event is a little over a month away. “Balloon Fiesta has been working a bit ahead of the curve,” said Tom Garrity, spokesperson for the Balloon Fiesta.

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It’s coming down to the wire as changes are coming down from the state left and right. “You know there’s always stress associated the closer we get to Balloon Fiesta and so that stress is already there we don’t need to buy any trouble right now,” said Garrity.

Despite a COVID-19 case surge and other ballooning events in nearby states canceling. “Calls, emails, and posts on social media asking about the status of the event,” said Garrity.

The 49th International Balloon Fiesta is still a go for now. “Our focus is really on how can we launch this event and stage this event successfully,” said Garrity. For organizers that means, making changes as new concerns arise.

“We’ve been working to separate our special shape balloons,” said Garrity. “Traditionally those balloons have been all positioned along the first three rows along the main street that would create a tremendous amount of traffic and a lot of crowds.”

They’re hoping this small change will urge the thousands of spectators each day to make use of the entire 83-acres surrounding them and help spread out the crowd. “We’re already taking a lot of the precautions and we’re taking them very seriously,” said Garrity.

Masks are another question. The Balloon Fiesta is following state protocols so masks only need to be worn inside, with most events already outdoors the only change came to dining. “In the past, our guests dined indoors. We are moving all of those outside, so we’ll have outdoor seating,” said Garrity.

While the Balloon Fiesta is going to look a little different, organizers say they’re confident with the event they’ve been able to put together. “We know that we will be launching this October 2,” said Garrity. On September 1, Garrity says they will be announcing an update to the Balloon Fiesta and a decision on if proof of vaccination will be needed to attend.

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