ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The windy conditions for the final day of this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta didn’t stop visitors from having a great Sunday morning. Overall, organizers are calling this year’s nine-day event a success after a year of uncertainty.
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“We all definitely needed this event, we needed it in so many different ways and we’re just happy to really help our community move through this time,” said Tom Garrity, the spokesperson of Balloon Fiesta.
Balloon Fiesta is a unique experience every year and this year’s event was another memorable one in the books. COVID protocols like masks on the field when in large groups were in place and fewer special shapes participated – 83 total. Visitors were able to see 10 new special shapes and about 600 hot air balloons were expected to take to Albuquerque’s skies.
“We had a winner on our hands,” said Garrity. “Our crowds were strong, our engagement with the community was strong, and our pilots had a great safe time. All that adds up to a lot of success.”
Balloon officials said overall, they were lucky to have great flying conditions throughout the event. But, that luck ran out the last two days, with windy weather impacting Saturday’s mass ascension and its evening balloon glow. Weather also affected Sunday’s mass ascension, which only allowed about a dozen balloons to inflate.
“The goal, of course, would’ve been to see everything, that would’ve been the perfect scenario. But hey, we’ll take what we can get,” said Scott Ary, who was attending the event for the first time.
Despite the poor ballooning conditions the last couple of days, spectators KRQE spoke with still had a great time, taking in the static display and looking forward to coming back for next year’s 50th event.
“As 2022 approaches, our entire community is able to celebrate the 50th event in some form or fashion,” said Garrity. “Whether that’s at the field or really having some special celebration off-site through the ‘X Marks the Site’ program.”
Balloon Fiesta officials hope to release attendance numbers by the end of this month. Next year’s 50th Balloon Fiesta is scheduled to take place October 1 through 9.